Category Archives: Robbery

Great Gold Robbery – 1855

“That means nothing, nothing at all” THE CRIME: On 15 May 1855, £14,000 of gold bars and coins was sent from London Bridge Station, bound for Paris via the South Eastern Railway. Also on board the train were the experienced thief, Edward Agar, and William Pierce, a former railway employee sacked for petty theft. Pierce… Read More »

Sudden Solomon – 1828

“Scarcely paralleled in the history of human villainy” THE CRIME: The first bank robbery in Australia was carried out by a Londoner with the unusual name of Sudden Solomon. He had been born George Blackston but often used the alternate spelling, Blaxton or the name William Blackstone. He was a criminal whose speciality was breaking… Read More »

Deacon Brodie – 1788

“A leap in the dark” THE CRIME: William “Deacon’. Brodie was born at Brodie’s Close, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh, the eldest of 11 children, on 28 September 1741. He was well educated and by the age of 22 was a Burgess, or freeman, of Edinburgh. In 1781 he became deacon (trade union leader) of the Incorporation of… Read More »

Dick Turpin – 1738

“You have done wrong in shooting your landlord’s cock” THE CRIME: Dick Turpin was baptized on 21 September 1705 at Hempstead, Essex. He worked as a butcher but his stock was stolen from local farmers, an offence punishable by death. After one theft he ran into the depths of the Essex countryside and supported himself… Read More »

Colonel Blood – 1671

“It was a gallant attempt, however unsuccessful!” THE CRIME: Thomas Blood was born in 1618 at County Meath, Ireland, the son of a blacksmith and grandson of an MP. During the Civil War he fought for the Royalists before changing sides to join Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads. At the cessation of hostilities, Cromwell made Blood a… Read More »

Fred Burke – 1929

Burke fired three times at the policeman who died later in hospital THE CRIME: Born as Thomas Camp on a farm near Mapleton, Kansas on 29 May 1893, Fred Burke was an armed robber and contract killer and was a prime suspect for the St Valentine’s Day Massacre (search the related article). He had his… Read More »

Nicola Sacco/Bartolomeo Vanzetti – 1920

“Viva l’anarchia!” THE CRIME: The Italian anarchist s who became a cause célèbre when they were executed for murder in 1927, Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were both Italian immigrants who arrived in the United States in 1908. They did not meet till 1917, when they became involved in anarchist politics, joining the terrorist… Read More »

Charley Peace – 1876

“For that I don but never Intended” THE CRIME: Born in Sheffield, England, Peace was the son of a circus-animal trainer. He was crippled aged 14, when his leg was damaged by red-hot steel which stunted his growth; he never grew taller than 1.62 m (5 ft 4 in). Five years later, on 26 October… Read More »

Phoolan Devi – 1981

The Bandit Queen THE CRIME: Phoolan Devi, known as the Bandit Queen, was born on 10 August 1963 at Gorha Ka Purwa, Uttar Pradesh, India. Aged 11, she was married off to a much older man who, by one account, raped her before sending her back to her family. In the late 70s she was… Read More »

Barker Karpis Gang – 1934

Ma and Fred were shot to death after a four-hour gun battle. THE CRIME: Born on 10 August 1907 as Alvin Karpowicz in Montreal, Canada, Alvin Karpis became known as Creepy because of his smile. He began his criminal career aged ten, working with gamblers, bootleggers and pimps. In 1926 he was jailed for ten… Read More »