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Elderly Bank Robber Not Ready for Rocker

<i> From Associated Press</i>

At 78, Forrest Silva Tucker apparently wasn’t ready to become just another Florida retiree enjoying the nightly early-bird special.

Twenty years after he escaped from San Quentin prison in a crude kayak, Tucker was captured and accused of robbing a bank earlier this month.

He didn’t go quietly.

Police had had him under surveillance even before the holdup April 22 in Pompano Beach. On the day of the robbery, they were waiting for him at his wife’s home. When he arrived, he led deputies on a high-speed chase before crashing into a palm tree.

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In his car, deputies found more than $5,500 in cash from the robbery, a sawed-off assault rifle, two stocking masks, pepper spray, a police scanner and a New York detective badge.

“He looked like he just came off the golf course,” said Lt. James Chinn. “You’d more expect to see him go to an early-bird special than robbing banks.”

In fact, six weeks before his arrest, he underwent surgery for arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat, Tucker told deputies.

Chinn said Tucker was the reputed leader of the Over the Hill Gang, a group of elderly men who robbed banks and stores in Florida in the 1980s.

Tucker was jailed pending arraignment Wednesday.

His criminal record goes back to 1936, when he was arrested at 15 for stealing a bicycle.

In 1979, Tucker was serving a 10-year robbery sentence at San Quentin when he and two inmates escaped in a kayak made in the prison wood shop.The two other inmates were caught within months.

Tucker remained on the loose until 1983, when he was arrested after a shootout with the FBI in West Palm Beach and charged with stealing more than $374,000 from a Boston bank. He took three hostages during the shootout and was captured after he collapsed from blood loss from four gunshot wounds. He was convicted a year later and released from prison in 1994.

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Authorities didn’t realize that he still had time to serve in California.


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