Profile America: First US Bank Robbery

Wednesday, March 20th. Banks had operated in America for about a half century before someone tried to make an unauthorized withdrawal. On this date in 1831, Edward Smith committed the country’s first bank robbery — hitting the City Bank on New York’s Wall Street. He entered the bank after it closed, using a duplicate set of keys, and got away with $245,000. By various calculations, that would be worth from $5.7 million to $6.8 million today. But Smith was caught, convicted and spent five years in New York’s Sing-Sing Prison. Now, across the nation, there are about 92,000 commercial banking establishments. As one 20th century bank robber supposedly noted, that’s where the money is — bank deposits total around $9.4 trillion.

Profile America is in its 22nd year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.