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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

ST. CLAIR SAVINGS AND LOAN HOLDUP

ST. CLAIR SAVINGS AND LOAN HOLDUP

The ST. CLAIR SAVINGS AND LOAN HOLDUP (12 Apr. 1957) was the first bank robbery in history filmed by a hidden camera. The savings & loan, located at 6235 St. Clair Ave., had been robbed twice during the previous 18 months, and as a result it was chosen by Thos. Story, superintendent of Cleveland police communications to have a hidden camera installed on a trial basis. It was put in place on Thurs., 11 Apr. 1957, and the next day a man and woman, both carrying pistols, robbed the St. Clair Savings & Loan of $2,376. The camera, designed to begin operating at the sound of the bank alarm, recorded the robbery on film, and the police quickly had pictures of the event printed in the newspapers. By that evening, news of the robbery and use of the new police camera had spread across the country.

Robbers Steven Ray Thomas and Wanda DiCenzi gave themselves up to the police on Saturday, and Rose O'Donnell, who had driven the car, was apprehended in response to a tip given by a neighbor. All but $800 was recovered. Police from across the country came to Cleveland to study the holdup and learn more about the hidden camera. Its use proved to be a major breakthrough in apprehending criminals and deterring robberies.