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Northern Highlands Daily Voice serves Allendale, Ho-Ho-Kus, Midland Park, Saddle River, Upper Saddle River & Waldwick

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Notorious bank robber jailed on $500,000 bail in Oakland holdup

Photo Credit: FBI
Photo Credit: FBI
Photo Credit: FBI

CVP EXCLUSIVE: Authorities tonight confirmed CLIFFVIEW PILOT ‘s report today that the 59-year-old ex-con arrested and charged in this morning’s bank robbery in Oakland is John E. Stevens, who was released from a New York prison two weeks ago after serving 25 years for no fewer than 22 bank robberies nationwide.

Stevens, who’d been holed up in a Brooklyn apartment, was charged with several counts, including various weapons and eluding charges, after Waldwick Sgt. Robert Woessner pulled over his getaway car and found a TD Bank bag with $4,000 and a handgun inside, Sgt. Douglas J. Moore told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight.

The TD Bank on Ramapo Valley Road had been held up moments earlier.

  • EXCLUSIVE: For years, John Edward Stevens taunted authorities — calling and telling them “You’ll never catch me” while robbing nearly two dozen banks across the country — before they put him in prison for 25 years. READ MORE….

PHOTO: Boyd A. Loving

CLIFFVIEW PILOT first reported Stevens’ arrest and identity, as well as the fact that he once was on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List, on the New York State Police’s “Dirty Dozen,” and was featured on “America’s Most Wanted,” before federal agents cornered him in a Cincinnati motel in November 1988.

Authorities said Stevens — recognizable by an angular scar running down his forehead — had robbed nearly $1.5 million during a three-year holdup spree while remaining on the run.

Before he went to prison, John Edward Stevens was known as a gambler who favored blackjack — and often used stolen money to place his bets.

The former bookkeeper and cabbie’s biggest heists included $50,000 and $13,000 robbed from the same bank in Albany a quarter-century ago.

He was both dangerous and arrogant.

John Edward Stevens, above and facing camera, below (COURTESY: FBI)

Using various aliases and forged identities, he eluded authorities for years — and even called agents, saying, “You’ll never catch me,” the FBI said.

Police almost had him in Manhattan: On Feb. 10, 1987, Stevens and an accomplice robbed $17,000 from what was then the Manufacturers Hanover Bank at 79th Street and First Avenue.

Stuck in traffic and seeing a New York City Police car pull up behind him, Stevens hit the gas, the FBI said.

He criss-crossed First and Second avenues with several NYPD cruisers chasing him, hitting speeds of 55 miles an hour while heading south along the East Side.

At 63rd Street and Second Avenue, Stevens lost control of the car, which plowed into a group of pedestrians. Stevens bailed out and ran through Second Avenue traffic, according to an FBI complaint.

He then ducked into an underground parking garage.

Stevens was placed on the bureau’s “10 Most Wanted” list in May 1988 and six months was finally caught while at a motel with his girlfriend.

Woessner pulled over Stevens’ getaway car on the Paramus Road exit from Route 17 South in Ridgewood just before 10:30 this morning after the Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) in his cruiser alerted him that the vehicle had been reported stolen out of New York City, Moore said.

A short time earlier, a man described as having salt-and-pepper hair and wearing a baseball cap robbed the TD Bank branch.

Area schools were locked down temporarily.

Oakland police said Stevens chased customers from the bank, then lifted the cash from the tellers’ drawers.

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