This Is Why The Public Loved John Dillinger

If you're familiar with the story of the rebel Robin Hood then you know that "sticking it to the man" and any show of redistributing wealth is a commendable act. The legendary outlaw is considered a symbol of resistance against the powers that be because he famously stole from the rich and handed it out to the poor. In modern times, whenever someone either helps the poor or steals from the elite classes, they are often referred to as a Robin Hood.

Colombian drug trafficker Pablo Escobar didn't steal from the government, but still earned the nickname for using drug money to combat poverty in Medellin (via Britannica). But notorious outlaw John Dillinger did steal, only he didn't give it to anyone in need — his crimes would help some poor Americans in another way. Still, that didn't stop people from idolizing him. Despite committing a series of heists and crimes, and even a murder, the American public loved John Dillinger.

John Dillinger becomes a famous American outlaw

At the peak of Dillinger's crime sprees in 1933, the U.S. was already four years into the Great Depression. The era marked one of the worst economic downturns in American history. But that year particularly marked the worst of the era. Some 25 percent of all American workers were unemployed; 37 percent of all non-farm workers were idle. It was the highest rate of unemployment on record, according to the Library of Economics.

Now enter Dillinger, a criminal fresh out of prison and robbing banks with his ruthless gang. He and his crew robbed a dozen banks in the Midwest region. And in the process of stealing between $300,000-500,000 (per History), he also destroyed mortgage records, says The Los Angeles Times. That news was music to the ears of thousands of Americans suffering and struggling during the depths of the Depression. As a result, Dillinger was hailed a hero. He was boldly taking from banks at a time when poverty was at a high, and many people benefited from him ruining documentation of their loans. Not only was he mostly getting away with his exploits, Dillinger continuously evaded authorities and famously sent the FBI on a manhunt. He was caught and killed in July 1934, but his infamy lives on.