Hometown Secrets: Notorious gangster robs Warsaw Police Department
To some John Dillinger was a ruthless bank robber, to others he was a hero taking a stand against the government -- but to people in Warsaw he is the man who robbed their police department.

There is nothing but a parking lot there now but in 1934 the corner of Indiana Avenue and US 30 in Warsaw was the sight of the Warsaw Police Department -- and the location of a crime scene.

"It was almost like a bonnie and clyde story. He was poor and bank robbery was the only way to make money in those days because of the depression," says Larry Engle, a retired Warsaw Police Officer.

Engle and fellow retired police officer Jerry Laurien love telling the story of the day John Dillinger and his gang of henchmen broke into the Warsaw Police Department.
 
"I have a newspaper here from the 30s of Officer Pittinger showing the wanted poster of Dillinger," says Engle as he holds up a old, worn, newspaper.

When these men joined the force in the 70s the story had already become a legend. They say, Dillinger had robbed the police departments in Auburn and Peru but while in Warasw on April 13th, 1934 his gang had injured a police officer -- town marshall Judd Pittinger.

"He was on patrol and they got him about a block from the city hall and had probably planned it. And they said in some of the articles they hit him to show they were tough and they meant business," says Engle.

Apparently the gang knocked him over the head and forced him into the police department.

"They went up there (to the police department) and broke into the gun case took the revolvers and vests," explains Laurien whose grandfather was the tailor who made the vests.

The gang got away with two revolvers and two bullet proof vests. The robbery made newspaper headlines all over the country.

One of those headlines, from Wisconsin, reads: "John Dillinger went to jail again and came out a few minutes later with two revolvers and two bullet proof vests. This time the Warsaw Indiana jail was his victim...Judd was kidnapped and brutally beaten."

Pittinger, the injured police officer, eventually recovered from his head injury and 3 months later Dillinger was shot to death by police in Chicago.

It has been almost 80 years, but the story of Dillinger's infamous Warsaw police station robbery will always fascinate those who live here.