You Can Thank One Man For All the Cops and Robbers Movies You’ve Ever Seen

Herman Lamm is not a name we hear much, likely because he went by many names. However, virtually every bank robber cliche in movies and books has some root in his meticulous heists. Also known by the name Thomas Bell, he developed the “Lamm Technique” of bank robbery. Before organized heists and cars, bank robberies had a pretty high success rate, but Lamm sought to streamline the process by using his military training as the blueprint for a new way to rob banks. Lamm would case a bank, noting the movements of guards, reviewing the floor plans, and even sending in men impersonating reporters to get a better look at the inside of the bank and the vault. This technique was also used by John Dillinger, who would send in men posing as security system salesmen. Lamm also created the idea that each man would have a specific role, just like the specialized labor of an assembly line. He pioneered the concept of having a getaway driver, whose only job was to drive and to drive well. In fact, he often hired men who had experience racing. Lamm would also do mock robberies and run-throughs in order to make sure it would be a successful heist. Lamm’s plans were so meticulous that he was dubbed “the father of modern bank robbery.” In the end, Lamm committed suicide after being surrounded on his final bank heist in Indiana on Dec. 16, 1930.