While preparing today’s other post on stolen Amish puppies, I stumbled across an old article on a bizarre story I’d never heard mention of before. On November 5, 1995, the New York Times reported the following:
When the reports of a bank robbery in Wall Township came into the F.B.I. office in Newark on Oct. 25, agents knew it was the same two men who had been robbing banks in central and southern New Jersey for two years.
The men were efficient, aggressive and disguised as Amish farmers.
The last job, they had on what appeared to be fake beards,” said special agent Ann Todd, spokeswoman for the Newark F.B.I. office. “They both had black hats with a small brim. These guys are so distinctive. They are very systematic. They do things the same when they do every job.”
It seems the idea started with one man, later adopted by the second:
One of the men has used the disguise since the first bank robbery, in Linwood on Oct. 23, 1993. The pair has hit seven other banks since then, and the second robber has begun wearing the disguise, including a fringe beard, round glasses, a dark jacket and a collarless white shirt. Agents say they do not know why the men dress like the Amish, who are known for their pacifism and avoidance of modern technology like cars and telephones.
The pair were quite successful at their illicit occupation:
In a series of eight robberies, the men have taken more than $250,000. That is “an extraordinarily large amount of cash” to obtain through bank robberies, Ms. Todd said. According to F.B.I. figures, about $2,000 is taken in the typical bank robbery.
The robbers’ system involved always removing the banks’ surveillance tape (this was a pre-digital era). I guess that’s why we only have a crude sketch.
So does this story have a happy ending? I was not able to find any other reports besides this one, or any further information, on whether these bandits were ever caught.
The article closes with agents puzzled at why the men thought dressing as Amish was a good idea:
Federal agents said they could not speculate about why the two men have chosen Amish-type clothing. There is no indication that they are from Pennsylvania, which is where most of the country’s 80,000 Amish live.
“For bank robbery, it is not a very good disguise,” Ms. Todd said. “It’s not like a ski mask or a gorilla mask, which covers your whole face.”