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Geriatric Bandits- 5 Interesting Old People Who Robbed Banks

By Edited Apr 30, 2016 1 1

We often think of younger or middle-aged people as bank robbers; however, history has shown that there have been numerous people who were older when they robbed a bank. Some of these geriatric bank robbers robbed more than 1 bank. There are enough senior citizen bank robbers to fill a book with but I will list 10 of them here who I find interesting.

1. Ethel Arata- The Grandma Bandit

Ethel Arata had a wealthy father when she was growing up. Ethel Arata father at one time was worth an estimated 20 million dollars. That was is a lot of loot, especially when you consider this was in the early 1900s. Ethel Arata grew up wealthy but eventually her father lost almost all of his money and he died a pauper. The sad tragedy of Ethel Arata though was just beginning. Ethel Arata was arrested after she got caught robbing a bank in Arcadia, California.

When police arrested her they were stunned. Ethel Arata admitted to other bank robberies. It was obvious that police had finally caught the ban robber that had been nicknamed The Grandma Bandit. Ethel Arata admitted that she was the one who had robbed to other banks, but like a lot of women was sensitive about her age. Ethel Arata stated that she was only 52 years old and she was not a grandma.

Ethel Arata said that she needed money and that is why she robbed the banks; however, she also gave most of the money away to people who were in need of the money more than she was. Some of the money went to her friends who needed money and some of the money she gave to complete strangers. It appeared to police that the Grandma bandit was really a Robin Hood Type Bandit because she robbed from the rich banks and gave the money to the poor or those in need. Police believed this because when they arrested Ethel Arata she only had .63 to her name. Ethel Arata was broke. Ethel Arata was sentenced to serve a 10 year prison term.

On a side note, when the police were looking for the Grandma Bandit there was a lot of coverage in the newspapers about this elderly robber. Ethel Arata was working for a Reverend of a Church. One day Ethel Arata was at Church with the Reverend and a group of people who attended church there. One of the ladies came out holding the newspaper with an article about the Grandma Bandit. Ethel Arata turned to the Reverend and admitted that she was the bank robber the police and FBI were looking for. Everybody laughed because they thought she was simply joking around.

2. Walter Unbehaun


Walter Unbehaun was 73 years old. He had recently got released from prison after serving a 10 year term for bank robbery. At 63 year sold he entered prison for bank robbery. After 10 years Walter Unbehaun was released. He then went and robbed another bank. He is now facing another 20 years behind bars. Walter Unbehaun did not wear any masks or disguise himself when he robbed the Chicago Bank. Walter Unbehaun was simply looking to get arrested so he could live out the rest of his life in jail.

3. J. L. Rountree


The oldest bank robber ever was J. L. Rountree. J. L. Rountree was 91 years old when he walked in and robbed a Texas bank. He had no weapon and when he handed the note to the teller demanding money she asked him a couple of times if he was serious. J. L. Rountree was sentenced to 12 years in prison. This might seem like a harsh sentence for this little old man but he was also convicted of robbing a bank when he was 87 years old and they let him off with only 3 years of probation.

4. Harold Van Horne


Harold Van Horne was arrested in December 2012 for bank robbery. Harold Van Horne used one of the best getaway vehicles available to bank robbers, the bicycle. Yes a bicycle! Each year numerous bank robbers escape the police and FBI by riding off on their bicycle. You have to give Harold Van Horne some credit. Not only can Harold Van Horne still get around at age 69, but he can get off on a bicycle after robbing   a bank. He only got caught when he was at a Wal-Mart. The employees thought he was acting suspicious so they called the police. The police showed up and recognized him from the surveillance videos at the bank when he robbed it. I guess he should have ridden his bicycle to a different State.

5. John Stolarz

John Stolarz was 47 years old when he got sentenced to Prison for bank robbery. John Stolarz has robbed multiple banks in multiple States. John Stolarz has even robbed 2 different banks in Salt Lake City, Utah in a single day in 1988.John Stolarz served 22 years in prison for robbing a bank. He had a lot of time to reflect on his life and the choices he made. 1 Day after being released from prison John Stolarz attempted to rob another bank. Things did not go too well and John Stolarz ended up getting shot in the leg by police.

You would think that if you were spending 22 years in prison that you would have enough time to be able to plan the perfect bank heist and get away with it. Nope…not John Stolarz. Stolarz entered the bank in Manhattan with a steak knife for a weapon. He headed to the information desk at the bank and attempted to rob some money. Unfortunately dumbass John Stolarz did not know that the information desk at the bank did not carry any money behind the counter.



Feb 15, 2013 11:05am
Very fascinating article. Well, (LOL) I have the age, but I will only do ordinary bank-biz! Thumbs up!
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