Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others' posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem for T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop!

Dumb Crooks of the Old West

The following article is from the book Uncle John's True Crime: A Classic Collection of Crooks, Cops, and Capers.

Here's proof that stupidity is timeless (and sometimes deadly).


In the little town of Coffeyville, Kansas, in 1890, Bob, Emmett, and Gratton Dalton, along with two other men, formed a gang of outlaws. Inspired by the exploits of their cousins the Younger Brothers -who 15 years earlier had stolen nearly a half million dollars from trains and banks with the James Gang- the Daltons pulled a few small-time robberies. But they wanted a big payoff and the fame that goes with it -and that could only come from a legendary bank heist. So they planned it all out …all wrong.

1. The Daltons aimed to rob two banks at once: Two men would rob the First National Bank, while the other three hit Condon & Co. across the street. They thought they'd get double the loot, but they only doubled the chances of getting caught.

2. Instead of traveling to another town where no one knew them, they chose Coffeyville -where everyone knew them.

3. The street in front of the banks was being repaired the day of the heist. They could have postponed it, but went ahead anyway. Now, they had to hitch their horses a block away, making a clean getaway that much more difficult.

4. Smart: They wore disguises. Dumb: The disguises were wispy stage mustaches and goatees. Locals saw right through them.

The bank robberies were a disaster. The townsfolk saw the Dalton boys coming and armed themselves. The Daltons did get $20,000 from First National, but came up empty at the other bank when the teller said she couldn't open the safe.

When they emerged from the banks, an angry mob was waiting for them in the street. A hail of bullets followed, killing every member except Emmett Dalton, who spent the next 15 years in prison. He emerged from the penitentiary to discover that the Dalton gang's story had indeed been immortalized, but not as legendary outlaws …only as hapless screwups.


The article above was reprinted with permission from Uncle John's True Crime: A Classic Collection of Crooks, Cops, and Capers.

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 0 comments
Email This Post to a Friend
"Dumb Crooks of the Old West"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More