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Character Day Bank Holdup

Six students from the Santa Rosa Junior College in California found themselves in a bit of hot water on April 24th of 1960. The students, one female and five male, dressed up in roaring ‘20’s style clothes for the school’s annual “Character Day.”  The 19-year-old woman wore a classic flapper outfit, while the five guys, ranging in age from 18 to 21, went for the classic mobster look of long coats, hats, and sunglasses.  

To complete their costumes, they carried an arsenal of toy guns: two cap pistols, two pellet guns, a submachine gun, and a sawed off shotgun.  They invited a photographer from a local newspaper to accompany them as they pretended to rob the Santa Rosa branch of the Bank of America.  

The students made the dumb mistake of not informing the bank that it was all a game.  A teller was handed a note along with a $1 bill demanding change for the dollar.  In exchange, the teller gave them two fifty-cent pieces.

Next thing you know, another teller screams in panic, and then a bank official called the police.  As they exited the rear entrance of the bank, all six were immediately arrested.  The FBI then booked them on federal bank robbery charges.  None could post the $5000 bail and had to spend the weekend in the Sonoma County jail before being transferred to Sacramento for a hearing before a United States commissioner.

It took about a month for it all to be worked out, but all of the charges against the six students were eventually dropped.

The Santa Rosa Junior College Students on Character Day
The Santa Rosa Junior College Students “robbing the bank” on Character Day. The image appeared on page 1 of the April 24, 1960 issue of the Press Democrat.
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