The Bonnot Gang (La Bande à Bonnot) was a French criminal anarchist group that operated in France and Belgium during the late Belle Époque, from 1911 to 1912. Composed of individuals who identified with the emerging illegalist milieu, the gang used cutting-edge technology (including automobiles and repeating rifles) not yet available to the French police.
Originally referred to by the press as simply "The Auto Bandits", the gang was dubbed "The Bonnot Gang" after Jules Bonnot gave an interview at the office of Le Petit Parisien, a popular daily paper. Bonnot's perceived prominence within the group was later reinforced by his high-profile death during a shootout with French police in Choisy-le-Roi.
Principal gang members included:
The first robbery by Bonnot's Gang was on December 21, 1911 at the AB Branch of Société Générale Bank, located at 148 rue Ordener in the 18th Arrondissement of Paris. They shot a collection clerk in the neck and lung (yet he survived) and snatched his cash bags.
On March 25, 1912, the gang stole a de Dion-Bouton automobile in the Forest of Sénart south of Paris by shooting the driver through the heart. They drove into Chantilly north of Paris where they robbed the local branch of Société Générale Bank – fatally shooting two bank cashiers and severely wounding a bookkeeper.
Sûreté Chief Xavier Guichard took the matter personally. Even politicians became concerned, increasing police funding by 800,000 francs. Banks began to prepare for forthcoming robberies and many cashiers armed themselves. The Société Générale promised a reward of 100,000 francs for information that would lead to arrests.