For a year and a half, a tall bank robber who often wore a floppy-brimmed fishing hat broke state records by committing 23 robberies in Minnesota. Dubbed the "Fishing Hat Bandit," John D. Whitrock was arrested in Edina and credit union president Dean Wickstrom helped reel him in.
In return, he received a fishing hat autographed by Whitrock along with a letter that apologized for his "illegal withdrawal."
Wickstrom framed the two items along with the story about the arrest and displayed them for a time at
Real Financial Center, where Wickstrom helped bring the bandit's bank-robbing spree to an end in January 2005.
Wickstrom loaned the display board to the Edina History Museum for our 2007 exhibit about Edina's police and fire history. Visitors commented so much on the "Fishing Hat Bandit" items that we also included them in the next exhibit on Edina's early suburban history.
Here is a copy of the infamous hat. Wickstrom had asked for the real thing, but the FBI told him the hat was "evidence." The man known for his polite demeanor during his robberies decided to send him an autographed duplicate.
Here's his letter that arrived with the hat.
The loaned display has now been returned to Wickstrom, who will loan it to the Edina Police Department for its City Hall display of artifacts from the city's police history. Police officer Kevin Rofidal, who was instrumental in putting together our exhibit on the police and fire departments, has collected items and stories for the permanent display case at the police station.
For more information on the fishing hat bandit, see these online resources:
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