The Longform.org Guide to Bank Heists
Five epic tales of elaborate schemes, desperate ploys, and lots and lots of cash.
First off, a quick primer on Longform.org. Every day we post new and classic nonfiction articles, curated from across the Web and designed to be read using services like Instapaper and Read It Later. You can find our picks on the site, of course—links are also accessible via Twitter, Facebook, and RSS. Since launching a year ago, Longform.org has built an archive of more than 1,500 top-shelf stories by nearly 1,200 writers—the definitive guide to great long-form journalism on the Web.
And, starting today, we'll be culling through that archive every weekend to find five great reads to share with Slate. First up: stories about bank heists. Enjoy.
The Trenchcoat Robbers Alex Kotlowitz • The New Yorker • July 2002
Ray Bowman and Billy Kirkpatrick, who began boosting together as teenagers, were arrested only twice during their prolific partnership. The first time was for stealing 38 records from a K-Mart in 1974. The second arrest came in 1997. In between, Bowman and Kirkpatrick robbed 27 banks, including the single biggest haul in United States history: $4,461,681 from the Seafirst Bank in suburban Tacoma.
The Boys in the Bank P.F. Kluge, Thomas Moore • Life • September 1972
A young man named John Wojtowicz, desperate to provide for his children and finance his lover's sex-change surgery, attempts to rob a Chase branch in Brooklyn. The bank is surrounded almost immediately and a 14-hour standoff ensues. (This story inspired Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon.)
The All-American Bank Heist David Kushner • GQ • October 2010
Anthony Curcio was the pride of his small town in Washington state. A former football star, he had married his high-school sweetheart and was making good money flipping houses. Then the real estate market crashed, and Curcio turned his obsessive attention to planning an ingenious heist involving Craigslist, an inner tube, and $400,000.
The Last Ride of Cowboy Bob Skip Hollandsworth • Texas Monthly • November 2005
Peggy Jo Tallas, a soft-spoken bachelorette, spent much of her adult life doing two things: taking care of her ailing mother and robbing bank after bank dressed as a pudgy, bearded cowboy.
The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist Rich Schapiro • Wired • December 2010
In 2003, a man named Brian Wells robbed a bank in Erie, Pa., with a bomb around his neck. Shortly thereafter, with Wells surrounded by cops and claiming he'd been forced to commit the crime, the bomb detonated, leaving authorities to piece together who had put it there. Eight years later, they're still not entirely sure who was behind this bizarre crime, or even the true motive.
Max Linsky is the co-founder of Longform.org.