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Photo by Tom Wheatley on Unsplash

Justice's method was free from screaming and gun-waving.

BY- JAYA CHOUDHARY

Tom Justice was an Olympic-level cyclist who aspired to win gold one day. But instead, he used his custom orange bike and riding abilities to carry off 26 heists in California, Illinois, and Wisconsin over the course of four years. And, as odd as it may sound, Justice of Libertyville, Illinois, was allegedly adept at snatching plastic bags stuffed with cash and fleeing the scene by zigzagging across streets. Despite robbing more banks than the infamous John Dillinger, Justice only made $129,338 in total, an average of $4,975 per bank robbery.


For years, the police were perplexed by the lack of a typical getaway automobile. The bicycle, on the other hand, was the ideal mode of transportation for Justice, who was a Category 1 track racer who had been preparing for the Olympics but had lost enthusiasm after a time. Tom Justice's early aspirations included not only racing bicycles in the Olympics but also working as an EMT; a broad range of ambitions for the former president of his high school. With his handmade bike and riding skills, Justice aspired to be an Olympic gold champion one day.

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Justice, on the other hand, sailed through collegiate racing without putting in the work required to be a world-class competitor. After failing miserably at social work and underwater welding, Justice turned to steal banks. He walked out of the first bank he robbed with $15,000. That money, he threw away, stashing it in places where he knew homeless people would discover it. He just saved the two-dollar banknotes as mementos.

Bicycle Tom Justice's early aspirations included not only racing bicycles in the Olympics but also working as an EMT Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

Robbery style

Justice's method was free from screaming and gun-waving. For the heist, he wore a baseball cap and sunglasses, hiding his face from bank cameras. He then gave the tellers a letter saying, "I've got a gun, give me the funds." Then he'd stroll to his orange bike, put on a spandex bodysuit, a silver helmet, and a set of cycling shoes, and nonchalantly pedal away from the crime scene, the money packed into a messenger bag. Because of his strange bank robbery methods, authorities dubbed Justice the 'Choirboy'. To avoid leaving his fingerprints on anything in the bank, he would keep his hands folded. It was clear that Justice robbed banks for the thrill of the experience and because he enjoyed riding fast. After all, the 1,000-meter sprint was his specialty.

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Getting caught

The orange bike, ironically, led to his conviction. A cop stopped Justice after his latest heist out of curiosity, but he fled on his bike. In a hurry, Justice dumped the $3,000 bike, complete with his sunglasses and racing shoes, in a brook. This proved to be his undoing. Police seized the bike and displayed it on social media until they tracked out the business that built it. Because the bike was custom, it didn't take long for them to track it down to Justice. A shop came forward and admitted to substantial maintenance on the bike. The prior bike owner came forward as well, claiming that he had sold and shipped the bike to California. Justice was arrested after being picked up at his parent's home in Chicago. He admitted to the crime, pled guilty, and was sentenced to nine years in federal prison. According to reports, he is 48 now and works at a doughnut shop, and sprints on the same road race where he initially fell in love with cycling.


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