John Dillinger: Escape Plans, Bank Robberies, And Everything You Didn't Know About The Famous Crook

By Sophia Maddox | May 24, 2024

Born Bad

Few criminals have captured the American imagination like John Dillinger. Infamous for his audacious bank heists and prison breaks, Dillinger's life was a whirlwind of daring escapades and close calls. As the face of the Great Depression-era gangster, he became a folk hero to some and Public Enemy No. 1 to others. With a knack for eluding the authorities and a charisma that made headlines, Dillinger's story is a riveting blend of outlaw antics and ingenious escape plans. Dive into the lesser-known details of his criminal career and discover the man behind the legend, who kept an entire nation on edge with his every move.

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Born in 1903 in Indianapolis, Indiana, Dillinger found ways to get himself in trouble from an early age. His first arrests when he was a teenager were mostly for theft, but he also liked to fight. After he dropped out of high school, his father thought that the best thing for the family was to move out of the city to keep his son out of trouble, but that plan backfired when Dillinger was arrested for stealing a car in his new neighborhood of Mooresville, Indiana.

The first cut is the deepest

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His first big-time arrest appeared to be the closest Dillinger got to a wake-up call because he tried out variations of a normal life for a while. He joined the Navy for a spell before deserting and even got married when he was 21, but he was an outlaw at heart and couldn't live the life of a family man. In 1924, he and a friend named Ed Singleton decided to rob a grocery store, making off with $50 before they were apprehended one day later. Because Dillinger assaulted the grocer with a machine bolt wrapped in a sack but also carried a gun for some reason, he was sentenced to 10–20 years in prison.