Bank teller behind one of Cleveland’s biggest heists is tracked down 52 years on – but months after he died

Theodore Conrad stole the equivalent of over $1.7m today from the bank where he worked in 1969

Rachel Sharp
Sunday 14 November 2021 17:30 GMT
Theodore Conrad carried out one of the biggest bank robberies in the history of Cleveland, Ohio
Theodore Conrad carried out one of the biggest bank robberies in the history of Cleveland, Ohio (US Marshals Service)

The bank teller behind one of the biggest heists in Cleveland’s history has finally been tracked down 52 years on from the crime, but died just four months before authorities came knocking on his door.

Theodore “Ted” John Conrad was identified as the man living under the fake name Thomas Randele in Boston, Massachusetts, close to the location where the original Thomas Crown Affair movie was filmed, which is thought to have inspired the robbery.

He died of lung cancer in May at the age of 71.

Mr Conrad is accused of stealing $215,000 (equivalent to over $1.7m or £1.3m in 2021) from the Society National Bank in Cleveland where he worked back in 1969.

The bank teller, then 20 years old, walked into his workplace at 127 Public Square on Friday 11 July, stuffed the cash into a paper bag and left as normal at the end of his shift, according to the US Marshals Service.

The heist went unnoticed for three days until Mr Conrad’s colleagues returned from the weekend on Monday and found both him and the money had gone.

For five decades, what happened to Mr Conrad remained a mystery with authorities chasing numerous red herrings all across the US in their quest to track down the man behind one of the biggest bank robberies ever seen in the city.

Authorities said Mr Conrad had become obsessed with the 1968 Steve McQueen film Thomas Crown Affair around a year before carrying out the robbery.

In the movie, a millionaire businessman called Thomas Crown carried out a huge heist stealing $2.7m (or £2m) from a bank in Boston with a team of four accomplices and a getaway driver.

Mr Conrad is said to have watched the film more than a dozen times and had boasted to his friends how easy it would be for him to carry out a robbery of the bank where he worked.

Then, one day, he allegedly followed through with his brags and vanished without a trace.

Ever since, the case was shrouded in mystery for decades and was featured in several true-crime shows, including America’s Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries.

Then, Cleveland US Marshals finally tracked down Mr Conrad to the Boston suburb of Lynnfield last week – close to where the movie was shot.

Authorities said Mr Conrad had been living an unassuming life there since 1970 under the fictitious identity of Mr Randale.

Peter Elliott, one of the US Marshals working on the case, said his father John Elliott had worked on the case for more than 50 years as a US Marshal before him.

“This is a case I know all too well. My father, John K Elliott, was a dedicated career Deputy United States Marshal in Cleveland from 1969 until his retirement in 1990,” he said.

“My father took an interest in this case early because Conrad lived and worked near us in the late 1960s.

“My father never stopped searching for Conrad and always wanted closure up until his death in 2020.”

Mr Elliott said that some of the documents his father uncovered from Mr Conrad’s college days were used to prove that he and Mr Randele were the same person.

“I hope my father is resting a little easier today knowing his investigation and his United States Marshals Service brought closure to this decades-long mystery,” he said.

“Everything in real life doesn’t always end like in the movies.”

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