Wall Street trader Stephen Trantel was a secret serial bank robber: ID investigates

Stephen and Jeanne Trantel pose for a family pic
Stephen Trantel lied to his wife, family, and friends about his secret life as a bank robber. Pic credit: Family pic

The Long Island Liar on ID is examining the crimes of Stephen Trantel, who robbed ten banks in six months in Long Island in 2003.

Trantel’s case was unusual because he had been a wealthy Wall Street trader who appeared to be living the American Dream with his wife, Jeanne Trantel, their privately educated children, and their fancy house and fast cars.

The family man was the son of a retired cop, and his father-in-law was a federal prosecutor; he seemed the most unlikely candidate for a bank robber. However, after he was finally caught, Trantel claimed he was driven to it by desperation.

Trantel had lost his job as a stock trader. He refused to tell his wife he was unemployed, and every morning, he put on his suit and pretended to go to work.

As the bills started mounting up, Trantel decided the only way out was to start robbing banks. He meticulously researched how best to get away with the crimes.

Trantel targeted quiet banks with no security guards. He avoided midweek heists after learning that most cops and blue-collar workers cash their checks on Wednesdays; he didn’t want any have-a-go heroes.

The robber would park his pickup truck a few blocks away from his targeted bank and carefully plan his escape route. He would then don a disguise, which usually involved overalls, a baseball cap, and a fake mustache.

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Stephen Trantel threatened bank tellers with handwritten notes

On entering the bank, Trantel would choose a teller he thought would be least likely to cause trouble and hand them a note reading, “Hey, I have a gun. No funny games. No alarm.”

Trantel targeted his first bank in early July 2003 and was surprised when the teller handed him $11,000 with no fuss. The whole robbery only took 30 seconds.

The thief paid off his bills and continued to lie to his wife about their true wealth. When the money ran out, he robbed another bank, followed by another eight, across five towns on Long Island. In total, he stole $60,000.

Cops caught Stephen Trantel after he left a fingerprint

The cops were initially stumped by the robberies, but they caught a break when Trantel left a fingerprint on one of the notes he passed to a teller. The robber had been arrested as a teenager in 1984 on a DUI charge, so his fingerprints were on file.

Trantel was arrested in November 2003 as he was driving home from a fishing trip. His family and friends were shocked to learn what he had been doing.

In March 2004, Trantel pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree robbery and was sentenced to a minimum of nine years. He was paroled in 2015.

The Long Island Liar airs Saturday, April 6 at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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