Al Capone and his gang were not robbing the bank

Al Capone and his gang were not robbing the bank
Kids these days…

I’ve written before about stupid pranks involving fake guns. (A coffeeshop robbery almost breaks bad, Deceptology>>)

We may think that it’s a recent phenomena caused by our gun-crazy and media-fueled violent culture, but it’s not. Here’s a story about a prank involving Santa Rosa Junior College (SJRC) students, fake guns and a pretend bank robbery. It was written by Gaye LeBaron for The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, California, in a column about her "old-older" game where she writes nostalgic stories about the town:

People are remembering the make-believe bank robbery that came close to becoming a disaster. 

Some of the information online got scrambled by passing years, and some participants put it in 1968 when a couple of Montgomery High students dressed for a school costume competition as Bonnie & Clyde. 

But it wasn’t. It was April of 1960 when a half-dozen SRJC students, participating in the college’s annual Character Day, dressed themselves as Al Capone and his gang. They looked so good with their plastic sub-machine guns and all that they decided it would be fun to pretend to rob a bank. 

The note they handed to the teller in the Bank of America on Fourth Street had a dollar bill pinned to it and read: "This is a hold-up. Give me two 50-cent pieces." (50-cent pieces! Now there’s an old-older for you). 

Everything after that was distinctly unfunny. Their toy guns were so authentic-looking that they scared the bank employees. Police were called. The students were arrested as they were leaving. 

They all spent the weekend in the county jail, with bail set at $5,000 each. On Monday they were taken in chains to federal court in Sacramento. Ultimately the charges were dismissed, but not for a month and not without some very harsh words from the bench. 

I happen to remember the incident and to recall the exact words of the police chief, Dutch Flohr. He said: "If there had been an off-duty policeman in that bank, he would have shot those kids!"

LeBaron: A bank robbery prank gone wrong, The Press Democrat>>

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