4 Bank Robberies That Went Horribly Wrong

4 Bank Robberies That Went Horribly Wrong

You should probably try robbing a bank. It nets you a bunch of money, which is sure to brighten your day, and even leaving that aside, it’s simply a fun activity. There’s really no downside. Unless, oh wait, what if the robbery doesn’t work out? Crap, we never thought of that till just now. In fact, now that we look at the history of bank robberies, it seems some of them went very poorly indeed. Maybe you should stick to your day job of mugging people in alleys, lest you wind up like...

The Mystery Dynamiter

A robber who entered an Ontario bank in 1973 had a pretty good plan to keep anyone from disobeying him. He had six sticks of dynamite strapped to his own chest, with the trigger held between his teeth, so if he released pressure (by choice, or because someone incapacitated him), the bomb would blow. This would kill him, which Canadian police probably aimed to avoid, and it would also spell danger for anyone close to him.

Sure enough, the teller at the Imperial Bank of Commerce obeyed his instructions and filled three bags with over $50,000 in cash. The bomber asked the bank to call the police, to provide him with an escort to a pickup truck. Then, as he walked away with the money and with a constable in tow, a sniper shot at him. The bomb went off, blowing him into so many pieces that he could never be identified. The officer in front of him did get mildly injured, and the explosion blew his police pants off, but the bag of money partially shielded this hostage from the blast. 

Like we said, the robber was never identified — 50 years later, we still have no idea who he was. Police did retrieve one severed forearm and looked at the fingerprints, but it produced no matches, making them regret ever touching that gross thing. The other really weird part of the robbery is that after the explosion sent currency flying through the air, the bank managed to retrieve almost all of it, minus the bits the blast destroyed. A thousand people looked on, but they did not grab the money and flee. Partly because they were Canadian. Mostly because a police sniper remained hidden, and he was taking no prisoners.

The Invisible Men

In Iran in 2002, a man discovered what seemed to be a pretty good deal. A wizard offered to make him invisible, in exchange for 5 million rials (that’s around $1,000 in today’s money). This was expensive but a worthy investment. Now invisible, he’d be able to walk into a bank and get back all that money, plus much more. 

Sadly, when he tried this — and this is the twist you never saw coming — he discovered he was not invisible. In fact, we’re not entirely sure the man who offered him this deal was a wizard at all. “I made a mistake,” said the robber. “I understand now what a big trick was played on me.”

100 Rials Iranian Bank Note

via Wiki Commons

Honestly, we commend him for admitting he’d been wrong. 

That man had put his faith in magic. Those who put theirs in science fare little better. In 1995, two Pittsburgh men learned that lemon juice works as invisible ink. Delighted, they doused their faces in the stuff then robbed two banks, sure their invisibility removed the need for masks. Sadly, lemon juice is invisible ink only in that the ink itself is invisible upon drying. It does not confer invisibility upon anything else. The men were easily identified and arrested.

These men’s unjustified confidence sounds like a classic example of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Actually, it was the classic example of the Dunning-Kruger effect. This was the incident that inspired psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger to research the way people overestimate their abilities, so for the world overall, the robbery was a grand success. 

The Manager Strikes Back

By some measures, Henry Starr was the most successful bank robber of all time. His career was almost cut short early in 1893, however, when he shot a deputy — which, of course, is a serious crime, so serious that even shooting a sheriff is forgivable so long as you don’t take this one additional step. Starr was sentenced to death. 

He appealed that sentence and wound up sent to prison for 15 years. While he was there, another outlaw, Crawford Goldsby, who’d killed eight different men, got his hands on a guard’s gun. He shot the guard twice, and when other guards soon arrived to face off with him, it was clear this situation would end with one or more people dead. Then Starr had the guards send him over to where Goldsby was. He disarmed Goldsby and turned him over to the guards. Starr became such a hero from this that Teddy Roosevelt pardoned him from his own murder conviction. 

Now a free man, with his record wiped clean, he went on to do what he was always made to do: rob more banks. He robbed at least 21 banks over the course of his career, but he never killed anyone else, so the world was ready to cheer him on. After another prison stint, he published an autobiography and starred in a 1919 movie, where he played himself, showing himself robbing those banks.

Movie poster for the American western film A Debtor to the Law

Pan American

And that was the last time Hollywood ever worked with a criminal. 

Then, in 1921, he went out for one last score. Despite being married at this point, and comfortably rich, he headed to the People’s State Bank in Arkansas, where he was fatally wounded while collecting his loot. No police officer took him down. Instead, it was the bank manager who picked up a Winchester rifle and shot him. Remember that bank manager in The Dark Knight, who fights back because it’s a mob bank, and also it’s a movie? He was just modeled after a typical man from Arkansas. 

No Respite in Jail

That’s the fear when you rob a bank — maybe you’ll get caught, and maybe you’ll get shot. Unless, that is, you want to get caught, and you avoid getting shot through simple submission. Such was the case with 70-year-old Kansas man Lawrence Ripple, who robbed a bank in 2016. After handing a teller a note claiming to have a gun, Ripple accepted the money and then waited in the lobby for a guard to approach him. Then he handed the money to the guard and awaited formal arrest.

Lawrence Ripple

via Fox 4

On formal charges of being a nuisance

His motive in all this? Ripple had fought with his wife that morning and had decided he’d rather be in jail then spend any more time with her. A court gave him probation, community service, a fine and a six-month sentence. But rather send him to prison, they sentenced him to home confinement — with his wife. 

 Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for more stuff no one should see. 

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