True Crime Stories Australia: Bank Robbers

True Crime Stories Australia: Bank Robbers

Another great quick read by Ozzies Abroad on true crime stories in Australia. This time we look at bank robbers and escape artists and we discovered that they usually go hand in hand. Every country has their true crime stories and Australia is no exception. Crime stories are immortalized in our culture so we suggest good books to read and movies to watch about these Aussie characters.

Remember Aussies, it’s all about having a good yarn or two to share with your friends abroad.

The 84 Sydney Bank Robbery

In the year 1984, busy George street in central Sydney was the scene of a bank robbery and hostage crisis comparable in circumstance to the movie ‘Dog Day Afternoon” starring Al Pacino. For five hours on that January day the city of Sydney was shut down as a full-blown siege took grip. The accomplished bank robber was 35-year-old Turkish born Hakki “Tim” Bahadir Atahan who had robbed over 17 banks in the previous 2 years. He was an ex-taxi driver and take-away food shop owner with a gambling problem. It was later discovered that he had $467 in his bank account the day he decided to rob the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney. He should have quit while he was ahead as police were on high alert after he successfully robbed two banks earlier the same day netting over $17,000.

True Crime Stories Australia: Bank Robbers
Atahan Leaving The Bank surrounded By Hostages

Police responded while the robbery was in progress and formed a perimeter around the building. During negotiations Atahan let off two rounds from his pistol but didn’t shoot anyone. He then released all the customers but retained five male staff members as hostages. It was later reported that during negotiations he gleefully shouted “This is like being in a movie”.

Atahan then came out of the bank surrounded by the hostages which acted as a barrier between him and the riflemen who were taking aim from the rooftops. They crammed into a car and drove off through police barricades which began a high speed pursuit involving 39 police cars, a helicopter and 4 water police boats. Even members of the public and the media joined the high speed fiasco. During the pursuit, Atahan picked up his 23 year old girlfriend and let one on the hostages go to make space in the Datsun Sedan.

Eventually, he came to the Spit Bridge which can be raised and police did so to stop him. They surrounded the vehicle and ordered Atahan to surrender. Detective Senior Constable Steve Canelis was shot in the head, just above his nose and the bullet went down his throat and his lodged next to his collarbone, it was a miracle that received a staring headline’s in this saga. Atahan was shot when two other policeman opened fire hitting him in the head and chest killing him instantly.

Brenden Abbott

Abbott was a professional bank robber that used make-up, disguises, false ID’s and electronics to foil alarms. He is now serving time for bank robbery after finally being arrested 1998. Abbott has twice escaped from jail and also managed to flee from police during questioning. The first prison escape from Fremantle prison in 1989, Abbott and another inmate jumped over the prison walls in handmade fake prison guard uniforms. Abbott remained on the run as Australia’s most wanted man for over 5 years.True Crime Stories Australia: Bank Robbers

He was dubbed the ‘Postcard Bandit” because media reported that he sent postcards to police while he was on the run but it was later discovered that the police invented that story to gain media coverage. However, it did capture the imagination of the public and turned Abbott into a folk hero. He was also called the “Drop-in Bandit” because he dropped down through the roof of several banks before demanding money.

Abbott is believed to have millions of dollars stashed away somewhere and won’t be eligible for payroll until 2040. In 2003, the film Postcard Bandit was made for Australian television starring Tom Long.

For a good read on the story of Brenden Abbott we suggest “No Fixed Address” by Derek Pedley.

Darcy Dugan

Dugan was a Sydney boy that committed several armed hold-ups, bank robberies and he even robbed a hospital but it was his feats as an escape artist that earn him fame and the nickname “Houdini”. He actually managed to escape police 6 times and his story reminds me of the movie “Catch Me If You Can” because he was arrested four times by the same law enforcer Detective Seargent Ray Kelly.

True Crime Stories Australia: Bank RobbersIt started in 1946, when he was on the way to the police station after being arrested for break and enter and he jumped out of the police wagon. He was recaptured a month later and escaped again on his way to the Courthouse by using a kitchen knife to cut a hole in the ceiling of the tram he was traveling in, this sparked a city wide manhunt involving 300 policemen. The police managed to catch him a day later and he spent 3 years in Long Bay Jail before he scaled the prison wall and jumped to freedom. However, he was caught 9 days later and stayed in custody for 2 weeks before escaping from a cell at the Central Police Court. He was facing court but during a break in proceedings he used a hacksaw to cut through the bars of the cell window and escaped again. He was arrested again after a few months and although made several more escape attempts but did not succeed.

Dugan committed many crimes and spent most of his life in prison. Between prison stints he taught ballroom dancing in Sydney Studios, campaigned against police brutality, was a popular speaker at service clubs and starred in the play Fortune and Men’s Eyes. His life story is fascinating and well captured in the autobiographical book “Bloodhouse” by Micheal Tatlow.

Read About Aussie Serial Killers Here

There You Have It

We hope you enjoyed our article True Crime Stories Australia. There are so many amazing stories in our history that make for a great yarn or two.Here at Ozzies Abroad we like to provide Australians overseas with a bit of Australiana, so if you like this article then get vocal in the comments section below.

See Ya Later.




4 Replies to “True Crime Stories Australia: Bank Robbers”

  1. People are absolutely insane, and the fact that I was already aware of this means that I’m not too terribly surprised by these people. In the modern era, you’d have to have extensive equipment, skills, and technology to get away with a bank heist worth anything sizable. Thanks so much for posting this article.

  2. I’ve always been fascinated by true-crime stories, especially from my younger days. Such stories provide an interesting peek into the criminal mind, albeit a small one.

    Although I don’t condone such actions, there is a certain awe that surrounds these characters especially in the modern age as they pit their wits against modern technology.

    I look forward to more of your ‘stories’ in the future.

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