Barney Fife's bank robbery episodes reflected a real rise in heists in America

In 1965, the deputy found $250,000 from a bank heist. That year, bank robbery losses hit the highest levels yet recorded: $3.9 million.

Read to Me

In 1965, fans of The Andy Griffith Show watched Barney Fife concoct one of his boldest detective schemes yet, after the deputy finds $250,000 from a bank heist in a suitcase.

Believing the bank robber will return for his lost money, Barney goes undercover, gadding about Mayberry flashing his new wealth and hoping to attract the robber's attention.

Sheriff Andy was opposed to Barney's plan in "If I Had a Quarter-Million Dollars." Instead of playing along, Andy called in the FBI, believing them to be better equipped to handle this case than Mayberry's finest.

When this episode aired, the U.S. was actually experiencing its largest spike in bank heists since the era of John Dillinger robberies in the 1930s.

According to the Springfield Leader and Press, in 1964, the FBI recorded more than three times as many bank robberies than they'd investigated a decade prior.

Total losses to bank robbery were at the highest levels ever recorded, amounting to $3.9 million.

In 1964, an FBI spokesman told the Leader and Press that the problem was largely connected to the creation of suburbs. In the suburbs, there tended to be fewer police officers, and bank branches tended to have fewer security measures, frequently located near easy escape routes. It left these suburban banks vulnerable to defend against unexpected threats from a growing number of amateur bank robbers.

"Today, we're dealing not only with old-time professionals, but also with a growing number of amateurs — including teenagers as young as 15, kids who need money for payments on their cars, even middle-aged women and little old ladies," the FBI spokesman said.

To combat these amateur bank robbers, the banks started relying on the latest technology, installing for the first time "special movie cameras to film holdups and identify hoodlums in action."

This was also the time when bank tellers first started using silent alarms that directly connected banks to local police.

On The Andy Griffith Show, bank robberies were rare, and we think the inspiration for "If I Had a Quarter-Million Dollars" was more to replicate the comedy of Barney’s "going undercover" laughs from the earlier episode "The Bank Job," which aired in 1962.

That was the episode that famously introduced Gomer Pyle, donning goggles while cracking open the safe. Maybe after "If I Had a Quarter-Million Dollars," Gomer helped install some "special movie cameras" to deter any further security breaches in Mayberry?

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basexig538 3 months ago
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JHP 3 months ago
"knock out drops - huh"

"sleep it off tiger"

good thing BARNAY knew the secret FBI handshake
nq0cb 3 months ago
Unfortunately, by the time Barney found the money, Gomer had left Mayberry for Camp Pendleton in California upon joining the Marine Corps.
stephaniestavr5 nq0cb 3 months ago
Gomer probably used the $$ to help him join the Marines. He more than likely flunked his entrance exam, (or whatever it's called,) and used the moolah to bribe a recruiting officer into looking the other way and allowing him to join. I know he looks so innocent, naive and sweet, but don't let those looks fool you.
Coldnorth stephaniestavr5 3 months ago
That made me chuckle
stephaniestavr5 Coldnorth 3 months ago
I'm glad I was able to put a on your face!
JHP stephaniestavr5 3 months ago
just remember he had all that scratch - and he was studying to be a doctor
stephaniestavr5 JHP 3 months ago
Gomer was studying to be a doctor?!?! Where did you read that? I wonder if Moriyah knows about this? I don't recall reading anything about this. I especially don't recall reading it in: "Gomer Says Hey!" which is a book about the series.
JHP stephaniestavr5 3 months ago
watch "man in a hurry" Malcolm Tucker wants Gomer to fix his hi-fallootin car on a sunday

and Andy informs Malcolm that info
Andybandit 3 months ago
I like that episode of TAGS.
LoveMETV22 Andybandit 3 months ago
I do too. I also like The Bank Job episode where Barney dresses in disguise.
texasluva LoveMETV22 3 months ago
For the Movie Quiz posters
Your movie of the week
Staring Michael Douglas/Robert Duvall/Barbara Hershey
Falling Down (1993) 1 hr 52 seconds
Director: Joel Schumacher
Take the hottest day of the year, a traffic gridlock, cracked pavements, dirty streets, unwarranted hostility and a general feeling of being short changed. Then add the frustrations of having an estranged wife and child, an extremely jaded and unbalanced mindset, and the frustration of being obsolete with no marketable skills. Set them against the decadent back drop of modern day LA where if you are 'Not economically viable,' you are of no use, and the result is Falling Down.

https://archive.org/details/fd-1993
harlow1313 3 months ago
"...even middle-aged women and little old ladies," the FBI spokesman said.

It wasn't her usual M.O., but I suspect Hubcaps Lesh.
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