Just after sunrise on the morning of August 9, 2012, in the Houston suburb of Katy, Scott Catt, a fifty-year-old structural engineer, was awakened by the buzzing of his alarm clock in the master bedroom of the apartment he shared with his twenty-year-old son, Hayden, and his eighteen-year-old daughter, Abby. The apartment was in Nottingham Place, a pleasant, family-oriented complex that featured a resort-size swimming pool and a large fitness center.
Scott took a shower, dried off, and ran a brush through his closely cropped, graying hair. He put on a T-shirt, a pair of blue jeans, and some work boots and walked into the living room, where Abby and Hayden were waiting for him on the couch. Hayden was also wearing a T-shirt and jeans, along with some slip-on tennis shoes. His short dark hair was brushed forward, splayed over his forehead. Abby, whose highlighted blond hair fell to her shoulders, was wearing a blouse, black yoga pants, and flip-flops.
“Okay, kids,” Scott said. “You ready?”
Hayden and Abby both nodded. The family headed out the back door and walked toward Abby’s 1999 green Volkswagen Jetta in the parking lot. Scott was a big guy, six-foot-four and 240 pounds, and he had to bend forward at the waist and duck his head to squeeze into the Jetta’s passenger seat. Hayden, who was six-two and 200 pounds, crammed himself into the backseat, pulling his knees up to his chest.
Abby started the car, pulled out of the complex, and made a couple of turns. In five minutes, she was driving into the parking lot of a strip center filled with small businesses—Fitness Unlimited, Shipley Do-Nuts, Weddings by Debbie, RadioShack, and Texas Mesquite Grill, among others. Abby parked the car about fifty yards from a Comerica Bank.
Scott grabbed a black garbage bag from the floorboard and took out two pairs of white painter’s coveralls, two white painter’s masks, two pairs of blue latex gloves, and two Airsoft pistols, which look like real guns but shoot only plastic pellets. In the tight confines of the Jetta, he and Hayden squirmed as they put on the disguises. Scott clipped a walkie-talkie to the lapel of his coveralls and handed another one to Abby.
It was nine-thirty. For the next thirty minutes or so, they sat in the Jetta, staring at the front door of the bank. Finally, Scott said it was time for them to make their move. Abby dropped her father and her brother off a few stores down from the bank and then drove around to an alley in the back. Just minutes later her dad’s voice crackled through her walkie-talkie.
“You there, Abby?” he said. “We’re going in.”
Robbing a bank is the most traditional of crimes. It’s a simple and direct act with an immediate payoff. All sorts of criminals have tried it—from professional stick-up men with long, violent pasts to drug addicts who just need money for a fix. Grandfathers have robbed banks, as have desperate housewives. “If you’re in law enforcement long enough, you’ll eventually come across bank robbers of every shape and size,” said Troy Nehls, the sheriff of Fort Bend County, which includes part of the Katy area. “But I’m not sure there has ever been a bank-robbing family. And then along comes Scott, Hayden, and Abby.”
By law enforcement