S408: The Norco Bank Heist part 1
Play • 53 min

This is the story of the 1980 Norco bank robbery—one of the most violent bank heists in U.S. history.

Remarkably, only three people died. However, 30 police cars and one helicopter were torn apart by bullets.

In this episode, you’re going to hear from some of the people who were there that day at the Security Pacific Bank.

This wasn’t your typical bank robbery. George Smith, the mastermind behind the heist, believed the rapture was coming.

His gang of bank robbers was armed with military-grade weapons. The police never stood a chance. I mean, it was a downright war zone. Why would George Smith go to such extremes just to rob a bank?

We’re going to spend the next two episodes trying to get inside the mind of George Wayne Smith. Who was he? And what motivated him to orchestrate such an insane bank robbery? And how did they finally catch him, the following day in the canyons, heading to the Mojave Desert?


Buy a copy of Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan on Amazon or wherever you get your books.


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Story idea?

If you have a story to share, email Javier a voice memo or short written description at info@pretendradio.org.


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This episode was written and produced by Javier Leiva

Edited by Molly Clay

Music by Blue Dot Sessions

Theme music by Joe Basile and thechicken.net


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