Two bearded young men entered a temporary branch of the Middlesex County National Bank on a Wednesday at 10:30, and produced guns. They told bank employees and one customer to lie on the floor, and then emptied out the cash drawers while a silent alarm reached Burlington police. Officer Andy Reilly dispatched all cruisers to the Turnpike.
One problem: When police called the bank to find out if it was a false alarm, the call went to a bank in Arlington due to a telephone company mixup, according to Sgt. Eugene Knowles. Of course the Arlington bank said everything was fine, so all Burlington cruisers were called off.
Knowles went to the Turnpike bank anyway just to triple-check. “Everyone was running around and screaming,” he recalls. “It was real.” The men fled in an old Volkswagen with $16,000. Burlington police later found the car in Lexington. This was probably Burlington’s first bank robbery, since the town didn’t have any banks before the 1960s. Everyone went to Woburn for city stuff like banking.
Other armed robberies in Burlington from 1958 to 1968:
- December 1958 — Times-Union editor Steve Coady was held at gunpoint while a man held up a store at the Economy Shoppers Center.
- March 1967 — Someone held up Quik-Mart on Wilmington Road.
That temporary Middlesex bank branch was set up on the Turnpike in 1965 while it prepared for its official debut at the new Burlington Mall in the summer of 1968.