Born on December 24, 1948 (some sources say 1949), in Shelby, North Carolina, Eddie Dodson hobnobbed with celebrities as the owner of a Los Angeles antique store. He began holding up bank tellers to support his drug habit—earning the nickname "New York Yankees Bandit" for his signature cap—and robbed 64 banks before he was caught and incarcerated in 1984. After a second stint in jail, Dodson died in Los Angeles, California, on February 21, 2003.
Edwin Chambers "Eddie" Dodson was born on December 24, 1948 (though some sources say 1949), in Shelby, North Carolina. Although his father died when he was a baby, Dodson otherwise had a normal childhood. Raised by his mother and grandmother, he regularly attended church, played little league baseball and was in a school band.
After graduating from high school in 1967, Dodson became an art student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He embraced the hippie culture, growing his hair long and selling marijuana and LSD to friends, but was caught with drugs in his possession during a traffic stop in 1971. Facing the possibility of jail time, he fled the area and wound up living in Los Angeles under an assumed name.
The High Life and Turn to Crime
After receiving word that his lawyer back in North Carolina had gotten the charges dismissed, Dodson dropped the alias and opened an antique store on Melrose Avenue. The store became a popular hangout for the bohemian art crowd, and its charming owner found himself rubbing elbows with such celebrities as John Lennon, Barbra Streisand and Liberace.
Dodson drove expensive cars and spent increasing amounts of money on cocaine and heroin, but unlike many of his celebrity friends, he couldn't continue spending so lavishly. Facing a $900-per-day drug habit and mounting debts, he quietly began robbing banks in July 1983.
Dodson had a distinctive style: Wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap and a friendly smile, he would point a fake gun at a teller and apologetically ask for cash. He quickly caught the attention of the FBI, becoming known as the "New York Yankees Bandit" and the "Gentleman Bandit," but despite his seemingly amateur methods, Dodson was remarkably effective. He eluded the FBI stakeouts set up around town, and robbed six separate banks during one especially prolific day in November 1983.
Dodson was finally caught in February 1984, ending a run of 64 robberies that netted him nearly $300,000. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail, and wound up serving a little more than 10.
Later Years and Legacy
Eddie Dodson took a cushy job as a caretaker for a resort owned by Jack Nicholson before resuming his old habits of using drugs and robbing banks. However, the gentlemanly manner was a thing of the past; gaunt and disheveled, he was tagged the "Down-and-Out Bandit" this time around.
After eight robberies, Dodson was apprehended at the Farmer's Daughter Motel in 1999. He was sentenced to four more years in prison, but released early, in October 2002, due to declining health. Ravaged by the effects of cancer and Hepatitis C over the final few months of his life, Dodson died from liver failure at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on February 21, 2003.
That same year brought the release of the book Where the Money Is: True Tales from the Bank Robbery Capital of the World. Co-written by former FBI agent William J. Rehder, the book featured the Yankee Bandit case as the centerpiece of his crime-fighting recollections.
A decade later, the film Electric Slide (2013), with actor Jim Sturgess in the role of the charismatic Tinseltown robber, was set to hit theaters.
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