Monday, October 25, 2010

Number 2: Lincoln National Bank

On the morning of September 17, 1930 a dark blue Buick carrying six men pulled up in front of the Lincoln National Bank at the northwest corner of 12th and O Street.  Five of the men entered the bank while a sixth stood outside by the Buick, cradling a machine gun.  Observing the unusual events, a passerby called the police.  The officer who responded, Forrest Shappaugh, was casually instructed by the machine gun toting lookout to just keep going, which he wisely did.   Returning with reinforcements, the robbers had already made good on their getaway, netting $2.7 million in cash and negotiable securities. 

gus_winklerUltimately, three of the six suspects were arrested. Tommy O’Connor and Howard Lee were convicted and sentenced. Jack Britt was tried twice but not convicted by a hung jury. Gus Winkeler, a member of Al Capone’s gang, winged a deal with County Attorney Max Towle to avoid prosecution in exchange for orchestrating the recovery of $600,000 in bearer bonds.  The following year, Winkeler was murdered in Chicago, the victim of a gangland slaying. The final two robbers were never identified.

The Lincoln National Bank robbery stood as the largest cash bank robbery in the United States for many decades.  It precipitated major changes at the Lincoln Police Department.  Chief Peter Johnstone was rapidly “retired” after the robbery, the department’s fleet was upgraded to add the first official patrol cars, the full force was armed, and a shotgun squad was organized.  Forty four years later when I was hired at LPD, the echo of the Lincoln National Bank robbery was still evident in daily bank opening details, and in the Thomspon submachine guns and Reising rifles that detectives grabbed whenever the robbery alarm sounded at headquarters.


The Sereies:

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chief,
I love this series of articles you have been doing. I do have a technical question for you though. On the scroll down arrow at the bottom of the posted newspaper clip my Mozilla Firefox browser cannot find a "suitable plugin". Do you have any idea what plugin would be needed to read the rest of that article?
T.I.A,
Gun Nut

-JS- said...

Just to put this heist in perspective: the relative worth in today's dollars (using the modest Consumer Price Index) is $34.7 million....

rob said...

chief, wondering if you can assit me with some info..

i noticed this weekend 3-4 cabs waiting downtown to give rides parked on 14th street with hazzards on.... now i am 36 years old and from lincoln and have worked in bars since i was 19.. and have never seen such a thing..normally at 1 am it takes 2 hours for a cab for a ride from the downtown area?

are there any new rules, laws, ordinances or obligations you have forced upon the cab company to offer more avaialble rides to the downtown late night business scene..??? please advise, thanks....



rob

Anonymous said...

Chief:The average bank today doesn't keep enough cash on hand to buy a 1930 Buick getaway car. And "bearer bonds" are no longer issued.

If these hoods were in business today, they'd have to become cyber-thieves to steal the big money.

Or they'd have to go legit and work on Wall Street.

256

Tom Casady said...

Rob,

Nothing that government controls. Probably a biz decision by the taxi company.

Steve said...

256

Or, better yet, go into politics (or arena consulting).

Anonymous said...

I think I read about this in the newspaper some years back and if I am not mistaken, I think it has a mention on Wikipedia too.

And why are 659's lips burning? That's the burning question of the day!

Anonymous said...

I was betting this would be #1, so I'm trying to guess what will instead take that dubious honor.

Or, better yet, go into politics

Good call, Steve, the biggest white-collar thieves in the world choose that line of "work" (spending other people's tax money). Send a few million dollars to a crony in the form of a government grant or contract, get back a big campaign contribution and maybe get let in on a lucrative IPO; repeat, ad nauseaum. You might wangle a seat on a board of directors or two after you leave office. It's a way to embezzle public funds - but do so legally.

gunshy said...

"Tommy" guns and Reising rifles in 1974. Sounds pretty scary. Were any of the officers issued those weapons actually trained to keep them on target when firing full-auto?

Jim said...

Tommy" guns and Reising rifles? I hope we've advanced to something along the lines of the M16/M4 platform and for the heavy work, something in the 7.62x51 range. M-14 or M-40?

ARRRRG!!!! said...

My gang's lookout.

Steve said...

Chief:

Don't post this one to give it away prematurely, but I'm thinking Starkweather has to be number one now that he hasn't shown up earlier in the list. I'd bet I'm not the only one who is guessing that either.

Anonymous said...

Gunshy-I don't recall the Thompson's being shot too much. Their actual value was realized when they were traded in for the Smith&Wesson Model 59 9mm pistols that replaced the antiquated .38 Special's in about 1975. I think the conversion was done at no/very little cost to the City because of the collector value of the Tommyguns. If you have any interest in the Thompson's,go to www.kahr.com. They are keeping the Thompson brand alive.

256

Anonymous said...

Chief love the referrence to the history of the patrol cars/vehicles. There's some interesting and great history there. I'm curious though, whatever happened to the chopper? I would guess it was pretty costly to operate... how about that ugly motor home? I'm sure LPD was glad to get rid of that. In looking at today, how often does LPD use air assistance? Doesn't the State Patrol have a few helicopters or even use assistance from NE Guard Choppers?

Anonymous said...

I am betting that Starkweather is going to top the list as well. I love this series of posts though. I hadn't known about all the crimes that had been posted. Thanks Chief for the educational reminders that Lincoln isn't as innocent as some people would like to think....

Nurse