Prisoner Profile: ‘Banker Bob’ Schibline
1958 – HARD TIME on ‘the ROCK’
As a U.S. Navy diver patrolling the eastern seaboard during the ‘Cold War’ of the 1950’s – big Robert Schibline (6’4″, 250 lbs.) and a fellow crew-member preferred ‘knocking over banks’ – to the usual shore-leave sailor antics.
After taking as much as $65,000 in 1956 in one haul, the two ‘sailors’ would scamper back to their ship, and very unique getaway vehicle – the aicraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt!
After being caught in 1957, ‘Banker Bob’, ended up at the forbidding U.S. Penitentiary Alcatraz – “the end of the line“ – in 1958. Landing a ‘premiere job’ as a dock worker, and known as a trained Navy diver, other convicts often sought out ‘big Bob’ for information and advice on making jailhouse scuba regulators, swim-fins, life vests, etc. – for underwater or surface excursions they might be planning!
Schibline’s cell on ‘B-block’ was located adjacent to those of Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers – who would eventually be immortalized as the ingenious escapees in the 1979 film classic – ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ – starring Clint Eastwood. (see the Escapes page for more info)
The escape conspirators asked ‘Banker Bob’ specifically whether swim fins were a good idea or not, and Schibline told them – “even a non-swimmer can swim a mile with a good pair of fins”. (Note: it is just over 1 mile to land from Alcatraz)
So, does Schibline think they made it?
“Haven’t had a postcard from ‘em in years” is all he would say!
2009 - ‘HARD TIME’ in Florida
And now… a happy ending! ‘Banker Bob’ is now a great success story – after being released from federal custody way back in 1965 – never to return!
Robert Schibline opened a scuba diving school in Wisconsin after leaving prison, and “met my match” – and now pretty wife, Karen (with Bob above) – one of his students.
Turns out she taught Big Bob a few lessons of her own when she told him – “if I catch you even thinking about stealing so much as a pack of gum – you’ll never see my face again!”
We’ll never know if it was the profound Alcatraz experience – or Karen’s warning – which scared Bob straight – but he likes to give her most of the credit – “one tough warden” he says.
Robert and wife Karen (clowning at home above) live a quiet life in sunny north central Florida. Bob is now a retired Scuba School and Carribean Dive Tour operator – as well as a, um… ‘retired‘ bank-robber of course!
Asked how he spent the large amounts of loot, Bob commented that he “had to split it with my partner, and living in hotels was expensive” – before Mrs. Schibline piped in to give us her opinion – “he spent it on fast cars and fast women!”
Regarding modern day bank-robber’s, Schibline says:
“I don’t get these sissy note passer’s we got nowaday’s – I liked to pull two pistols – one in each hand – now, that really got their attention!”
Video interviews with ‘Banker Bob’ Schibline and twelve other former Alcatraz convicts, including blockbuster new information on the ‘Great Escape from the Rock‘ of 1962 – will be available on this site soon – so stay tuned!