5 Strangest Bank Robberies of the 21st Century

Bank security has come a long way since the days of Willie Sutton and John Dillinger, and banks are better than ever at protecting the money housed inside. Nevertheless, bank robbers are no less glamorized now than they were in years past, as witnessed by the success of films like Inside Man, The Town and, of course, Point Break.

It’s no wonder why criminals still attempt to make fast cash by robbing financial institutions, though some are definitely more successful than others. The following is a look at some of the more modern and notable bank robberies. These heists range from infamous to obscure, but one thing’s for sure — they’re all quite strange.

bank heists
Image: SanDiego.com

1. Geezer Bandit

This guy has pulled off 16 robberies throughout the San Diego area so far, and there’s no telling how long he’ll stay a wanted man. So what sets this robber apart from all the others? He looks more like someone’s grandpa than a gun-wielding criminal.

That’s exactly what Geezer Bandit, as he has been dubbed, is. Witnesses describe him as between 60 and 70 years old, hunched over and usually wearing a blazer atop several layers of shabby clothing. The FBI isn’t disclosing how much he’s gotten away with so far.

It’s uncertain whether Geezer really is a retirement-age bank robber or just someone disguised as one. Either way, he’s still on the loose and building quite a fan base.

2. The Best Disguise Ever?

Any semi-successful bank robber is usually adept at hiding his features, preventing identification and eluding law enforcement. However, none have ever thought to change their features drastically enough to resemble not only a different person, but a different ethnicity.

That’s exactly what Conrad Zdzierak did. Police struggled to find and capture the African American male who had robbed four banks and a CVS pharmacy all within a three hour time span. That’s because he was actually a white male wearing a mask and sunglasses.

Though he maybe deserves some recognition for creativity, he falls into the ranks of not-so-smart thieves thwarted by simple security measures. Zdzierak was eventually tracked down when his getaway car, covered in ink from an exploded dye pack, was discovered sitting outside a hotel. The mask he had been wearing was found in his room.


3. Darth Vader

Sci-Fi nerds across the nation can appreciate this thief who dressed up as the ultimate bad guy, cape and all, and robbed a Chase bank on July 22, 2010 in Long Island. Understandably, Vader had to assure the customers that he was not in a kidding mood, exclaiming “This is not a joke!” when one tried to chat him up in line.

famous bank robbers
Image: Gawker.com

4. Rip Torn

It turns out robbing a bank isn’t too easy when you’re an easily recognizable actor…and completely wasted.

Elmore Rual Torn, Jr., better known as Rip Torn, was arrested earlier this year when he attempted to rob the Litchfield Bank in Salisbury, Connecticut at gunpoint. During an unsuccessful robbery attempt (it was Friday night), he was found wandering the bank by police, drunk and carrying a loaded revolver.

This isn’t Rip’s first encounter with the law, either, and likely not the last. Hopefully, he will at least learn from this mistake and attempt to rob his next bank during business hours.

5. Cardboard Lady

This one goes down as not only the strangest, but most hilarious bank “hold up” to date.

In 2008, 30 police officers and SWAT teams from three different New Jersey towns were involved in an intense stand-off at a Somerset County PNC Bank. Negotiations via bullhorn and phone were attempted for over three hours as the suspect stood inside behind with the blinds drawn.

The suspect? An approximately five-foot-tall female made of cardboard. Police didn’t realize that the bank’s alarm had been set off accidentally and the only “person” inside was a cardboard cut-out. There was no robbery in progress, only long-lasting embarrassment.

Is your hometown infamous for a weird or funny bank robbery?