Bank rob­ber-turned-nov­el­ist Stephen Reid, aged 68

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - FAMILY ANNOUNCEMENTS -

Canadian Stephen Reid shot to no­to­ri­ety as a mem­ber of the Stop­watch Gang, a trio of rob­bers who stole mil­lions of dol­lars from banks across North Amer­ica in the 1970s and ’80s.

They took their name from the stop­watch Reid wore on the raids and were fa­mous for their metic­u­lous plan­ning, the speed with which they struck – of­ten 90 sec­onds or less – and the courtesy they showed their vic­tims.

They were also phe­nom­e­nally pro­fes­sional. One of their most au­da­cious raids was a $750,000 gold heist in 1974 from Ottawa Air­port.

How­ever this was overhshad­owed by a $283,000 rob­bery at a Bank of Amer­ica branch in San Diego in 1980, which set a Cal­i­for­nia record.

The gang – Reid, Paddy Mitchell and Lionel Wright – tar­geted an es­ti­mated 100 banks and got away with around 15 mil­lion Canadian dol­lars.

Reid, who has died aged 68, was con­victed of bank rob­bery twice and served time in more than 20 pris­ons in Canada and the US, but built a sec­ond life for him­self when he took up writ­ing be­hind bars in 1984.

He sub­mit­ted a man­u­script to Su­san Mus­grave, then writer-in-res­i­dence at the Univer­sity of Water­loo. The pair struck up a cor­re­spon­dence, then a ro­mance and mar­ried in 1986. He pub­lished his first novel, Jack Rab­bit Pa­role, that year.

His sec­ond work, A Crow­bar in the Bud­dhist Gar­den: Writ­ing from Prison, won the 2013 Vic­to­ria Book Award.

He be­came ad­dicted to heroin and co­caine and, in June 1999, com­mit­ted another bank rob­bery, which earned him 18 years in prison.

He was given day pa­role on Jan­uary 28 2008 and died in a hos­pi­tal near his home on June 12.

Stephen Reid was a mem­ber of the Stop­watch Gang rob­bers.

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