The Bank Robbery Inspired By The Thomas Crown Affair

It's no wonder why the world of cinema loves a bank robbery. Their dramatic high stakes and high rewards, along with the convoluted and complicated plans to execute them, make daring heists a Hollywood mainstay. Sometimes, art can inspire people in unintended ways, which was certainly the case when a boy named Theodore Conrad became obsessed with the Steve McQueen flick "The Thomas Crown Affair" (via Cleveland).

Conrad was 19 when the film, where McQueen plays a millionaire bank robber, came out and he quickly saw it multiple times. He had been a well-behaved, popular student with a bright mind and seat on the student council, and got a job working in the headquarters of Society National Bank. A year after the movie's release, Conrad decided to enact a heist of his own, just by walking into the vault and leaving with a paper bag filled with $215,000 — or over $1 million when adjusted for inflation. Yet despite its extreme simplicity, Conrad would not be connected to the crime for over half a century.

Conrad was only discovered after his death

According to NPR, though the robbery was one of the most infamous in Ohio history, Conrad was not identified until five decades after his heist. Despite the fact that the robbery could not have been more basic in its execution, given his sterling record as a student and employee and the lax security in place at the bank, Conrad committed the robbery on a Friday, so the missing money was not discovered until Monday. Conrad didn't show up for work that day and had spent the weekend getting a head start on the authorities.

Conrad had discussed how easy it would be to rob his bank with his friends, and might have had a point. The 20-year-old skipped down and eventually ended up in Massachusetts, changing his name to Thomas Randele. In Massachusetts, Conrad worked as a golf instructor and car salesman while raising a family. He evaded police for so long that a son of one of the original U.S. Marshals working the robbery took up the case; he was only able to connect "Randele" to Conrad after the robber died of lung cancer, and closer examination of documents (including a bankruptcy filing) connected Randele to his real identity. Though the mystery has finally been solved, Conrad lived and died without ever facing time for his heist — just like McQueen in "The Thomas Crown Affair."