#2. The Head of a Kidnapping Squad Is Responsible for Kidnappings
"Big" Tom Brown was the chief of police in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the early 1930s, a time when the notorious bank robbers of the Depression era had started moving on from stealing rich people's money to just stealing rich people (and then demanding a ransom). During that time, Brown was put in charge of the kidnapping squad: It was his job to dispatch officers to protect the city's wealthiest citizens. Just having Big Tom around would make anyone feel safer.
The reason for his nickname is a mystery lost to the ages.
But at the Same Time ...
Big Tom was a member of another kidnapping squad -- as in, one that literally kidnapped people. While he was protecting the fat cats from being snatched away, he would also feed information about them to the Barker Gang, the criminals behind the most daring St. Paul kidnappings of the '30s, and getting a juicy cut of the ransom in exchange.
St. Paul Pioneer Press
"'Notorious kidnapper Large Thomas continues to elude us,' Big Tom said."
On June 15, 1933, the Barkers snatched up William Hamm, scion of Hamm's Brewery, and held him for four days while demanding a ransom of $100,000. Hamm's mother ignored the gang's instructions to not get the cops involved and called the authorities ... who, of course, referred her to the guy in charge of that department, Chief Tom Brown. Brown acted as a go-between for Hamm's family and the kidnappers, dropping off the $100,000 payment, a quarter of which went to his own pocket for helping set up the whole operation.
Big Tom would also tip off gangsters when detectives were coming to raid their hideouts -- he was so beloved within the criminal community that members of the Dillinger gang contributed generous donations to his campaign to be elected county sheriff.
John Dillinger/Rocky Mountain News
Brown lost, despite his campaign platform to legalize Tommy guns and homicides.
Brown and the Barker Gang tried the same thing about a year later: This time they picked Edward Bremer, whose father, Adolph Bremer, owned several banks and was a close personal friend of FDR. Yeah, that FDR. The members of the Barker Gang were eventually caught and/or killed by the feds ... but Brown got away with it. By this time the FBI had stepped in, knowing that Brown was dirty but unable to prove it. Or they could prove it, they just couldn't decide who would go up to Brown and try to arrest him, so they just let him go free.
#1. A Robbery Detective Goes on a Massive Bank-Robbing Spree
Andre Stander was born to be a cop: His father was a general in the South African Department of Correctional Services, and he graduated at the top of his class at Pretoria Police College. Stander enjoyed a rapid ascent through the ranks and held the post of captain by the age of 31. The guy became such a legend that he was recently portrayed by Thomas Jane in a movie of his life, Stander.
One of his of his many roles involving blasting people with a large weapon.
But at the Same Time ...
Of course, most of the movie concerns his other job ... as a bank robber. Stander would sometimes rob banks on his lunch break and then go back in the afternoon to investigate.
"Hey everyone, I found a clue! Wait, no, it's my wallet."
It all started in 1977, when Stander hopped on an early morning flight to another city, rented a car, and, donning a wig, mask, and sunglasses, proceeded to rob the shit out of a bank. He caught another flight back that afternoon and finished his shift at the Kempton Park Station. And then he did it again, and again, and again. For years.
After the first robbery, Stander stopped renting cars and simply stole them, because why the hell not? Even when he started robbing banks in his own jurisdiction, he was so good at disguising himself that no one ever recognized him. In fact, after three years, the only reason anybody even caught on is because Stander actually approached another cop and basically said, "Hey, guess who has two thumbs and likes to pillage the shit out of Johannesburg? This guy!" Stander's hope was to persuade his longtime partner in the Robbery Task Division to join the Dark Side of the Force. Carl Van Deventer, Stander's would-be accomplice, set up a sting instead.
Fort Lauderdale Police Department
Stander was expelled and Deventer was suspended for being a lousy partner.
Stander was caught and sentenced to 75 years in a South African prison. He served three of those years before he decided he'd had enough. Taking a nurse hostage, Stander pulled off a jail break and then essentially said, "Alright, world, I was taking it easy on you. Now the motherfucking kid gloves are coming off."
For the next year, Stander went on an international crime spree. He spent a year robbing up to four banks a day, spanning the globe from Cape Town to Greece, then to Spain, then back to Africa so he could steal a goddamn yacht, and then hightailing it to the U.S. Stander was finally gunned down in Fort Lauderdale after a botched attempt at fencing a boat worth almost half a million dollars, which only proves that there's crazy, and then there's batshit crazy, and then there's Florida.
Related Reading: Feeling a little less than positive about the police? Crank up the NWA and read this article about the 100% legal ways John Law can screw you. If law enforcement mythbusting is more your speed, this article reveals the truth about pleading insanity and asking undercover officers "are you a cop?". And if all this has you running low on faith in Lady Justice, these real life vigilante crime-fighters should set your conscience to right.