March 20, 1831 — About $245,000 was stolen from today from the City Bank of New York today, making it the first bank robbery in the US.
It wasn’t “America’s First Bank Robbery,” which actually occurred when two thieves took $162,821 from the Bank of Pennsylvania at Carpenters’ Hall in the early morning hours of Sunday, September 1, 1798.
But today in 1831, two men with a set of homemade keys approached the City Bank of New York, according to the Saturday Evening Post: “The keys, which had been made from wax impressions of the door locks, enabled the men to let themselves into the bank and lock the doors behind themselves. What happened that night is generally considered to be the first bank robbery in the U.S. The two men—James Honeyman and William J. Murray—emptied the vault and several safe deposit boxes. By the morning, they had filled several bags with $245,000 in bank notes and coins. It was an incredibly large sum for a robbery, roughly equivalent to $52 million today. The robbery was sensational enough to be rushed into print in the next edition of the Post, under a bold headline offering ‘$5,000 Reward.’”
Honeyman and Murray got away the next morning as the sun rose and the city’s night watchmen went off duty. Carrying the loot under the large capes they were wearing, they hurried to Murray’s house where they divided the money.
Words of Wisdom
All my life I wanted to be a bank robber. Carry a gun and wear a mask. Now that it's happened I guess I'm just about the best bank robber they ever had. And I sure am happy.