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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

In 1957, Cleveland was the first city in the world to capture a bank robbery on film

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Here's a neat little piece of local history to get you through the workday: Security cameras installed at St. Clair Savings and Loan, located at 6235 St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland, were the first in the world to capture a bank robbery and help identify the suspects.

The robbery occurred just after noon on April 12, 1957 when a man, later identified as 24-year-old Steven Ray Thomas, pointed a gun at a teller while his accomplice, 18-year-old Wanda DiCenzi, stuffed over $2000 into a bag. A third individual, 18-year-old Rose O'Donnell, was waiting outside in a getaway car.

Later that evening, the footage from the robbery was broadcast on national news, and the trio was caught soon after.

After their capture, then Cleveland Police Chief Frank Story remarked that no one in their right mind would walk into a bank with a hidden camera and rob it, a statement that, of course, has proved false over the years.

Here are some photos from the incident, as well as a still shot from the security footage, courtesy of the Cleveland Police Museum's Facebook page.


click to enlarge This bank (now a Charter One),  was the scene of the world's first bank robbery to be filmed by a bank security camera.
  • This bank (now a Charter One), was the scene of the world's first bank robbery to be filmed by a bank security camera.
click to enlarge This still shot from the actual 1957 security footage shows the male suspect (later identified as Steven Ray Thomas) pointing a gun across the teller window while his accomplice, the women in the dark coat,  stuffs $2,376 into a paper bag. A third accomplice was waiting outside at the wheel of a getaway car.
  • This still shot from the actual 1957 security footage shows the male suspect (later identified as Steven Ray Thomas) pointing a gun across the teller window while his accomplice, the women in the dark coat, stuffs $2,376 into a paper bag. A third accomplice was waiting outside at the wheel of a getaway car.
click to enlarge The three robbery suspects read about the robbery in the Plain Dealer as they wait for their arraignment.
  • The three robbery suspects read about the robbery in the Plain Dealer as they wait for their arraignment.
click to enlarge Thomas E. Story, Superintendent of Police Communications and son of then Police Chief Frank Story, displays the camera used.
  • Thomas E. Story, Superintendent of Police Communications and son of then Police Chief Frank Story, displays the camera used.

click to enlarge Detectives reviewed footage from the bank camera, identified the suspects, and broadcast the iamges on the national news.
  • Detectives reviewed footage from the bank camera, identified the suspects, and broadcast the iamges on the national news.



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