Bank robbery is a federal crime in the United States, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation defines the act of robbery as taking or attempting to take property through the use of, or the implied use of force. Bank robbers became part of American folklore in many cases, among them being the James brothers, Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall Gang, the Younger Brothers, and in a later era, John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, the Barker-Karpis Gang, and many others.
George “Dutch” Anderson (1879-1925) – A Danish criminal, Anderson, along with Gerald Chapman, co-led a Prohibition-era gang from the late 1910s until the mid-1920s. He and his associates successfully robbed a U.S. Mail truck of $2.4 million in cash, bonds, and jewelry. He was finally captured and sentenced to 25 years in prison but later escaped. He was killed in a police shoot-out on October 31, 1925.
John William Anglin and Alfred Clarence Anglin – Georgia bank robbers arrested in 1956 and ultimately sent to Alcatraz. They escaped in June 1962 and were never seen again. Also See: A Daring Escape From Alcatraz.
Ashley Gang – Led by John H. Ashley, the gang terrorized Florida’s southeast coast for more than 15 years, committing crimes that ranged from murder, bank robbery, hijacking, and bootlegging to piracy on the high seas.
John H. Ashley (1895-1924) – Leading the Ashley Gang, which terrorized Florida’s southeast coast for more than 15 years, the gang committed crimes that ranged from murder, bank robbery, hijacking, and bootlegging to piracy on the high seas. Law enforcers killed him on November 1, 1924.
Harvey John Bailey (1887-1979) – A partner of Machine Gun Kelly, Bailey was considered one of the most successful bank robbers of the 1920s; Bailey stole over a million dollars. He was thought to have been involved in the Kansas City Union Station Massacre. He was eventually captured and spent 31 years in prison. He died at the age of 91 in Joplin, Missouri.
Kate “Ma” Barker (1873-1935) – An alleged member of the Barker-Karpis Gang, who committed a spree of robberies, kidnappings, and other crimes between 1931 and 1935, Barker was killed in a shoot-out with police on January 16, 1935.
Lloyd Barkdoll – A bank robber, Barkdoll was sentenced to prison and wound up in Alcatraz, where he attempted to escape in 1941.
Barker-Karpis Gang (1931-1935) – Kate “Ma” Barker and her sons, Herman, Lloyd, Arthur, and Fred, teamed up with Alvin Karpis and several other criminals, who terrorized the Midwest and reached the position of Public Enemy #1 on the FBI “Most Wanted List.”
George Kelly Barnes, aka George “Machine Gun” Kelly (1900-1954) – A notorious Prohibition-era criminal, his crimes included bootlegging, armed robbery, and, most prominently, kidnapping. He spent some time in Alcatraz before dying of a heart attack at Leavenworth Federal Prison, Kansas, on July 18, 1954.
Edward “Eddie” Wilheim Bentz (1895-1936) – Partnered with such names as Machine Gun Kelly and Baby Face Nelson, Bentz was one the shrewdest, most resourceful, intelligent, and dangerous bank robbers of the Depression era.
George Birdwell (1894-1932) – A partner and friend of Oklahoma outlaw Pretty Boy Floyd; Birdwell and Floyd robbed several banks in Oklahoma, including two banks, on one day on December 12, 1931, in Castle and Paden, Oklahoma. Alone, Birdwell attempted to hold up the bank in the African-American community of Boley, Oklahoma, in November 1932 and was shot from within the vault by a citizen.
James Boarman – A bank robber, Boarman was sent to Alcatraz and, during a 1943 escape attempt, was killed.
Ford Bradshaw (1908-1934) – One-time leader of Cookson Hills Gang and partner of Wilber Underhill and Charlie Cotner. He was suspected of numerous bank robberies in Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Nebraska and suspected of four murders. Constable Bill Harper killed him at Arkoma, Oklahoma, in March 1934.
Tom “Skeet” Bradshaw – Brother of the notorious bank robber and murderer Ford Bradshaw and member of the Cookson Hills Gang. Suspect in bank robberies in Vian, Oklahoma, and Chetopa, Kansas. Convicted of attempted murder and bootlegging in 1934.
Al Brady (1911-1937) – Wanted for murder and robbery in the Midwest, Brady was killed by FBI men in Bangor, Maine, in October 1937.
Harold Brest – A Pennsylvania bank robber, Brest was sent to Alcatraz and participated in Floyd Hamilton’s 1943 escape attempt.
Robert Carey (1894-1932) – A Midwestern armed robber and contract killer responsible for many crimes during the Prohibition era. He was considered a suspect in the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929.
James “Oklahoma Jack” Clark – A Depression-era outlaw and bank robber, he was a protégé of bank robber Hermann “Baron” Lamm. He participated in the gang’s final robbery against the Citizens State Bank in Clinton, Indiana, on December 16, 1930. The gang escaped with $15,567 in cash, but a posse tracked down Clark and others at Sidell, Illinois. In the ultimate gun battle, Lamm and two other gang members were killed. Clark and fellow gang member Walter Dietrich were arrested by authorities and extradited to Indiana. They were both sentenced to the state prison in Michigan City, Indiana, on bank robbery charges.
Joseph Paul Cretzer (1911-1946) – A bank robber, Cretzer was sent to prison at Alcatraz, where he participated and was killed in the bloody “Battle of Alcatraz.” He got involved in crime when he and Arnold Kyle formed the Cretzer-Kyle Gang, which robbed several banks along the West Coast. By 1939, he was listed as the FBI’s 4th most wanted man. He was sent to Alcatraz, where he tried to escape in May 1941, along with fellow prisoners Sam Shockley and Lloyd Barkdoll. His last escape attempt resulted in the “Battle of Alcatraz,” in which he was killed on May 4, 1946.
Benny and Stella Dickson – Bennie and Stella Dickson were a husband and wife team who turned to a life of crime shortly after their marriage. They successfully stole over $50,000 in an eight-month period from August 1938 to April 1939.
Dillinger Gang, aka The Terror Gang (1933-1934) – Comprised of several unsavory characters such as Baby Face Nelson, Homer Van Meter, Eddie Green, Harry Pierpont, Charley Makely, Russell Lee Clark, John Hamilton, and Thomas Carrol, this ruthless gang, led by John Dillinger, spread terror across the Midwest from 1933 to 1934, killing as many as 16 people and robbing as many as 20 banks.
John Herbert “Jackrabbit” Dillinger (1903-1934) – Midwestern bank robber during the early 1930s; Dillinger was a dangerous criminal responsible for the murder of several police officers who robbed at least two dozen banks and escaped from jail twice.
Fleagle Gang – The Fleagle Gang was a group of early 20th-century American bank robbers and murderers.
Charles Authur “Pretty Boy” Floyd (1904-1934) – Bank robber and alleged killer, he was romanticized by the press. His first robbery was $3.50 in pennies from a local post office at the age of 18. Three years later, he was arrested and convicted of a payroll robbery.
Rufus Franklin – A bank robber and car thief, Franklin was sent to Alcatraz and, during a 1938 escape attempt, killed a custodial worker. Franklin was wounded and sentenced to life in prison for the murder.
Roy Gardner (1884-1940) – Stealing over a quarter of a million dollars in cash and securities, Gardner was the most famous escape artist and celebrated outlaw of his time.
Floyd Garland Hamilton (1908-1984) – An associate of the Barrow Gang, Hamilton was not involved in the final shoot-outs that killed the infamous Bonnie and Clyde. Continuing a life of crime, he maintained a lifestyle of robbery and was captured and sent to Alcatraz. In 1943, he tried to escape with three other men but was later apprehended. He was later sent to prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, and released in 1956.
Raymond Elzie Hamilton, aka Floyd Beatty (1913-1935) – An associate of the Barrow Gang, Hamilton was one of the best-known desperadoes of the 1930s.
Charles E. Johnson – One of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, Johnson committed burglaries and robberies between 1921 and 1953 and spent years in prison. He was convicted again in 1954.
George Kimes – Oklahoma bank robber and brother of Matthew Kimes, the pair killed Sequoyah County, Arkansas Deputy Sheriff Perry Chuculate when he attempted to apprehend them. Later, the brothers were captured, and George was sent to prison in McAlester, Oklahoma.
Matthew Kimes (??-1945) – Oklahoma bank robber, murderer, and brother of George Kimes, Matthew led the Kimes Gang in the 1920s.
Hermann K. “Baron” “Lamm (1890-1930) – A former German army officer, Lamm immigrated to the United States and soon put his military training to use as a bank robber. Lamm successfully robbed banks across the United States until he was killed in a shoot-out near Sidell, Illinois.
James C. “Tex” “Lucas (1912-1963) – A bank robber and car thief, Lucus attempted to escape from Alcatraz.
Frank Lee Morris (1926-??) – Morris was exceptionally intelligent, ranking in the top 2% of the general population as measured by I.Q. testing. He served time in Florida and Georgia, then escaped from the Louisiana State Penitentiary while serving ten years for bank robbery. He was recaptured a year later while committing a burglary and sent to Alcatraz in 1960. He, along with John and Clarence Anglin, escaped in June 1962 and was never seen again.
George “Baby Face” Nelson, aka Lester Joseph Gillis (1908-1934) – Though his name was actually Lester Gillis, he was better known by “Baby Face” “Nelson during his criminal days. A major bank robber in the 1930s and partner of John Dillinger and Homer Van Meter, The FBI caught up with him in November 1934. In the gun battle that ensued, he was shot and killed.
The Newton Brothers – Four of five Newton brothers were infamous for their robbing of railroads and banks, with most of their bank heists committed at night after they had cased the joint for several days. Using nitroglycerin, they would blow open the safes, take the cash, and quickly disappear. On one occasion, they robbed two banks in Hondo, Texas, on the same night.
Rufe Persful – A gangster and bank robber, Persful was a trusty at Tucker State Prison Farm in Arkansas when he chopped off two fingers of his hand to gain a transfer to Springfield, Missouri. He was later sent to Alcatraz.
Adam “Eddie” Richetti (1909-1938) – The son of Italian immigrants, Richetti was born in Oklahoma on August 5, 1909, and by his teens was involved in a criminal lifestyle. He soon hooked up with the likes of Vernon Miller and Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” “Floyd and began to rob banks. Involved in the Kansas City Massacre, he was arrested and executed in the gas chamber of the Missouri State Penitentiary on October 7, 1938.
Richard Sam Shockley, Jr. (1909-1948) – An Oklahoma bank robber and kidnapper, he was captured and sent to Alcatraz. He attempted to escape twice in 1941 and in 1946, in which officers were killed. He was executed for killing the officer on December 3, 1948.
Edward Smith – Committed one of the first bank robberies in the United States on March 19, 1831, stealing $245,000 from the City Bank on Wall Street in New York City.
William “Willie” “Francis Sutton (1901-1980) – A prolific bank robber, Sutton stole as much as $2 million in his career and spent more than half his adult life in prison. After his release, he died in 1980 at the age of 79.
Homer “Wayne” “Van Meter (1906-1934) – A bank robber active in the early 20th century, he was a criminal associate of John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson.
Richard Reese Whittemore (1898-1926) – Leader of a gang of jewel thieves in New York.
Ted Huron Walters – Arkansas bank robber Walters was sent to Alcatraz and attempted to escape in August 1843. He was caught before he made it off the island.