I’m sure we’ve all had those experiences where a clerk or other low-level customer service representative cites “store policy” in being unable to fulfill a seemingly simple request. The encounters can be frustrating and infuriating. Fortunately, they’re rarely of interest to local law enforcement.

That, however, was not the case earlier this week at the Center Market on N.E. Baker Street in McMinnville. According to the McMinnville Police Department, a man entered that convenience store about a quarter after 11 p.m. Thursday. Surveillance footage circulated to media organizations the following day shows that, once the man was able to get the attention of the store’s cashier (who is initially seen busily tapping away at his smartphone), he lifted up his black hoodie to reveal a handgun tucked into his waistband.

According to the press release, the man, white and estimated to be in his early 20s, then demanded the employee give him money from the cash register. Unfortunately for our would-be robber, the clerk explained he was unable to open the till without a purchase being made. So, believe it or not, the criminal mastermind turned around and left empty-handed. The entire exchange lasted less than a minute.

I’ve included a link to the video upload for your viewing pleasure (Update: I’ve also embedded a link to the YouTube video above; thanks to the McMinnville News-Register for uploading it). And since there’s no audio, I’ve painstakingly reconstructed their conversation below, using my years of extensive training in lip reading and body-language interpretation.

(Robber enters stage right)

Robber (after a pause): Excuse me.

Clerk: Be right there, just playing Grand Theft Auto on my phone. (pause) OK, how can I help you?

Robber: Give me all the money in the cash register.

Clerk (surprised): But why?

Robber (lifting up sweatshirt): ‘Cause I got a gun, that’s why.

Clerk (panicked): Oh, no! Is this a robbery?

Robber (annoyed): Yes, it’s a robbery! Now fork over the cash!

Clerk: But I can’t.

Robber: What do you mean you can’t? Just open up the till and hand it over.

Clerk: That’s just the thing. I can’t open the register unless you buy something.

Robber (after a brief pause): Dang, I didn’t think of that. Seriously?

Clerk (sympathetic): Yeah. The owner implemented this new store policy since we kept getting robbed.

Robber: Shoot. (pause) Oh, pardon the expression.

Clerk: No problem. So, yeah, if you just want to go ahead and make a purchase, we can complete this robbery.

Robber: Well, the problem is I don’t have any money. (hesitates) That’s kind of why I was doing this…

Clerk: Oh.

Robber: Yeah.

(long, awkward pause)

Robber: So, never mind then, I guess.

Clerk: Yeah, sorry about that. Have a good night.

Robber: (sighs) You too. (exits stage right)

And so begins and ends the criminal career of the Scarf-Faced Bandit, who held captive the city of McMinnville in a reign of terror that lasted nearly 45 seconds in October 2012.

In all seriousness, police are looking for this guy. Click here to see the complete news release from Mac PD, as well as the phone number you can call with any information pertinent to the case.

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