A look back at John Dillinger’s crime spree in northeast Indiana

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Notorious gangster and former public enemy number one has been back in the news as of late. His remains are set to be exhumed and examined in September.

Dillinger committed crimes more than 85 years ago, but evidence of those crimes can still be found in northeast Indiana. He and his gang robbed the Auburn police department in the early 1930s, stealing guns, armor, and ammunition.

The Thompson sub-machine gun that had been stolen in that robbery was recovered by Auburn Police, and is now on display at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum.

“Having that historical connection, it’s great. You know it’s one thing if we had a reproduction or even the same gun that wasn’t used by Dillinger, but it doesn’t have the same impact on history. So it’s great to have it here and have that direct connection. It’s the one and only one that was used,” said museum Executive Director, Brandon Anderson.

Another location that has evidence of Dillinger’s crime is about twenty minutes north of Auburn, in the small town of Hudson, Indiana. Eli’s Bar and Grille was formerly known as the Farmers State Bank in Dillinger’s time. He and his gang robbed the bank of $1,700 in the early 1930s.

The original bank safe that Dillinger and his bank robbed can be seen behind the bar at Eli’s Bar and Grille. Customers will also see many newspaper clippings and the door to the old bank, located around the restaurant.

“You know, they are just so amazed that small town Hudson, that he was actually here, his gang was here and that this little podunk place was robbed. We still have the safe, we can’t believe they still have the safe. It’s neat to see their reactions,” said Eli’s Bar and Grille owner, Paige Keim.

John Dillinger is a notorious gangster from the past, but many of his criminal activities occurred in northeast Indiana. Now they are simply historical landmarks right in Fort Wayne’s backyard.

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