- NAME: John Dillinger
- OCCUPATION: Thief, Organized Crime Boss
- BIRTH DATE: June 22, 1903
- DEATH DATE: July 22, 1934
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Indianapolis, Indiana
- PLACE OF DEATH: Chicago, Illinois
- Full Name: John Herbert Dillinger
- Nickname: "Public Enemy No. 1"
- AKA: John Dillinger
- AKA: Johnnie Dillinger
- Nickname: "Jackrabbit"
- AKA: Jimmy Lawrence
Best Known For
John Dillinger was an infamous gangster and bank robber during the Great Depression, and was know as "Jackrabbit" and "Public Enemy No. 1."
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To get the equipment, they headed to the police arsenal in Peru, Indiana. After casing the joint, Pierpont and Dillinger entered the arsenal, overpowered the three guards and stole machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and ammunition.
After the bold prison escape, the killing of Sarber, the bank robberies, and the attack on the police arsenal, the Pierpont Gang was gaining substantial notoriety. Newspapers wrote sensational stories of the gang's exploits. Gang members were often described as shadowy figures, wearing dark overcoats with hat brims pulled down to hide their identities. The thieves would make swift movements and bark out sharp, crisp orders to "Get down and nobody gets hurt!" Victims were described as helpless and grateful to have their lives spared, and the law was portrayed as inept. All the gang members were well aware of their publicity, particularity Dillinger, who read the stories and saved press clippings. While most men in this line of work possessed big egos, there seemed to be little struggle for leadership within the gang. Whether the newspapers made reference to the "Pierpont Gang" or the "Dillinger Gang" didn't seem to make much difference. Each man had a role to play and the planning of robberies was more egalitarian, with all members providing input.
When they weren't working, the men lived quietly and conservatively in expensive Chicago apartments. They dressed like any other respectable businessmen and didn't draw much attention to themselves. Nearly all members had girlfriends, some had wives, but the attachments were episodic. The men drank only on the off-hours, and typically beer. Pierpont had a strict rule that planning and committing a crime had to be done without alcohol or drugs. For the most part, all members agreed that if any gang members couldn't or wouldn't adhere to the rules, they were let go.
For the next three months the gang went on a crime spree of several bank robberies in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Always meticulously planned, the heists often had a theatrical flair. One time, several gang members posed as alarm system sales reps to get into a bank's vault and have access to the security system. Another time, they pretended to be a film crew scouting locations for a bank robbery movie. Bystanders looked amused as the real bank heist took place. It was during this time that stories began to circulate in newspapers of interesting oddities and even humorous incidences that occurred during the bank robberies, all enhancing the thieves' reputations. One story told of a farmer who had come to a bank to make a deposit while the gang was robbing the place. Standing at the teller window with his money in front of him, Dillinger asked the farmer if the money was his or the bank's. The farmer answered it was his and Dillinger told him, "Keep it. We only want the banks'."
In December 1933, the gang took some time off and then decided to spend the holidays in Florida. Shortly before they left, one of the gang members fatally shot a police officer while picking up a car at a repair shop.
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Bootleggers, smugglers, drug dealers, hit men—all these occupations are the provenance of mobsters, who operate in ethnic, family and business networks. Mobsters' real life crimes, and Hollywood's fascination with them, has earned them a special place in the American imagination. From Al Capone's Chicago crime ring to Bugsy Siegel's Las Vegas racket, these mobsters have made their names notorious from coast to coast.
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