The Snowbird Bandit: a Good Cop Who Broke Bad

A decorated LAPD detective became a bank robber in his 70s
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2017 5:25 PM CDT
The Snowbird Bandit: a Good Cop Who Broke Bad
Randy Adair, a retired LAPD detective who became a 70-year-old bank robber known as the Snowbird Bandit.   (Orange County Sherriff's Dept. via AP)

“Seventy-one years of goodness and four months of idiot," Randy Adair says from the visiting room of a federal prison in California. The retired Los Angeles Police Department detective is serving a seven-year prison sentence for a string of bank robberies in 2015. Los Angeles Magazine takes an in-depth look at what made a decorated officer—Adair arrested Sirhan Sirhan after Sen. Robert Kennedy was shot—turn to a life of crime as a septuagenarian. The answer is tied up in gambling, alcoholism, insecurity, mental trauma, and a lifetime of health problems stemming from one night in 1971 when Adair rescued "25 to 30" people from a burning apartment building.

Adair retired from the LAPD in 1988. Twenty-seven years later he robbed his first bank, getting away with $1,700 or so. He says his strategy was speed: “Zip. Bam. Boom. In. Gone.” He says robbing banks was a "quick, fast way to solve" his money troubles. But the money never seemed to be enough. Adair, nicknamed the Snowbird Bandit by the FBI, would make off with around $7,400 in four more robberies before he was finally caught. "My family turned me in," Adair says. His son-in-law was the first to recognize him in news reports, but it was his own daughter who called the police and his wife of nearly 50 years who lured him to his arrest. Read the full piece here for more on the downfall of an LAPD detective. (More Longform stories.)

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