The Stopwatch Gang

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The Stopwatch Gang was a group of four Canadians, Paddy Mitchell, Lionel Wright, Stephen Reid, and driver Grant Bethel, who made a living robbing banks in the United States and Canada. From 1974[1][2] to 1980, they robbed nearly 100 banks and stole the equivalent of about $15 million Canadian dollars.[3]

The gang was famous for the brilliant planning of their jobs. They were known for robbing banks in two minutes or less[1] and getting away with no trace. The group was nicknamed "The Stopwatch Gang" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, because one of the men was seen wearing a stopwatch around his neck while robbing the bank.[4] They were known for non-violent methods and politeness to victims.

They successfully completed a $750,000 gold heist in 1974 from the Ottawa airport.[1][3] They were arrested after that robbery and all escaped from prison by 1979.[4] Then, they carried out a large number of bank robberies in the 1980s along the California coast, where they stole large sums of money. The gang's biggest heist took place at a Bank of America branch in San Diego on September 23, 1980, when the US$283,000 they stole set a San Diego record.[4]

The gang's story is recorded in several television documentaries and books, including Mitchell's autobiography, This Bank Robber's Life, which he wrote from prison.[5]

Stephen Reid later became a noted Canadian author after writing Jackrabbit Parole while in prison and then being paroled in 1987.[3][4][6] In 1999, Reid re-offended and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. He was released on day parole in February 2008.[3][4][6] Reid died in hospital near his home on Haida Gwaii in June 2018.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Time runs out on Stopwatch Gang leader". Canada.com. Postmedia Network Inc. 16 January 2007. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Time Runs Out for the Stopwatch Gang". BankersOnline.com. Glia Group, Inc. and the Bankers Information Network. 7 December 2005. Archived from the original on 20 August 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e Johnston, Patrick (14 June 2018). "Notorious bank robber turned author Stephen Reid dies at 68". National Post. Postmedia Network Inc. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e Dean, Josh (2015). "The Life and Times of The Stopwatch Gang". Atavist Magazine. Atavist Inc. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Top 10 Brazen Heists". TIME. Time Inc. 4 August 2011. Archived from the original on 15 December 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  6. ^ a b Meissner, Dirk (3 March 2015). "Stopwatch Gang bank robber and author Stephen Reid denied full parole". The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail Inc. Retrieved 17 June 2018.