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Real story behind California's most unbelievable bank heist told in Norco '80


LAist Studios, Southern California Public Radio’s (SCPR) podcast development and production studio, today announced Norco ‘80: God, Guns, Survivalism and the Bank Robbery that Changed Policing Forever a new limited series podcast premiering on January 11, 2021. Through new interviews and never-before-heard archival audio, the series recounts the events of May 9, 1980 when five young men, driven by end-of-the-world fears surrounding the Cold War and inspired by an apocalyptic religious movement, attempted to rob a Southern California bank.

Hosted by Antonia Cereijido, the first two episodes of the 10-part series will premiere on January 11, with subsequent episodes launching weekly on Mondays. A trailer for “Norco ‘80” is available on, and listeners can subscribe to the series now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever podcasts are available.

"The events of the Norco bank robbery are rich with complexity bringing together God, guns, economic hard times, and police caught off guard that as a result sparked the militarization of policing that lives large today in cities big and small. It’s a story little known but 40 years later, listeners will be surprised to find how much it resonates today,” said Herb Scannell, President and Chief Executive Officer of SCPR. “As a host, Antonia serves as an insightful tour guide as we go back to understand the vast and lasting impact that was left behind following this captivating heist in Southern California’s Inland Empire.”

Following a decade marked by the painful end of the Vietnam War, the 1980s ushered in a new day for Southern California and the nation, but one that was mired by civil unrest, economic depression and global anxiety. At the time, the bank heist was quickly becoming the most California of crimes. But while most robbers favored a discreet handoff, the Norco bank robbery saw five heavily-armed and ill-prepared men acting under the influence of religious fanaticism carry out a heist that quickly spiraled out of control, leading to one of the most unbelievable and violent events in law enforcement history.

Through new and extensive interviews with central figures in the robbery — including the ringleader of the group, as well as law enforcement and others involved that day — and never-before-heard archival tape from police radio traffic and confession room recordings, “Norco ‘80” will retrace the story from the 1970s to present day, exploring how the events of this one tragic day ushered in a new conversation around end of the world paranoia, survivalism, faith mental health, the evolving role of police, and what constitutes public safety that remains ever-relevant today.

“Norco ‘80” is produced by LAist Studios, in partnership with Futuro Studios. Antonia Cereijido is host and senior producer; Marlon Bishop is executive producer; Sophia Paliza-Carre is senior producer; and Joaquin Cotler is associate producer. Leo G is executive producer for LAist Studios.

About Southern California Public Radio (SCPR)

Southern California Public Radio ( is a member-supported public radio and multi-platform media network. Recognized nationally as a leader in public service journalism and civic engagement, SCPR’s flagship station, 89.3 KPCC-FM, reaches more than 900,000 listeners every week as the most listened-to public radio news service in Southern California. The network’s five stations (89.3 KPCC-FM in Los Angeles and Orange County, 89.1 KUOR-FM in the Inland Empire, 90.3 KVLA-FM in the Coachella Valley, 89.9 FM in Santa Barbara, and 89.5 KJAI Ojai in Ventura County) serve the diverse communities of Southern California with award-winning local news coverage, the most NPR content available anywhere in the region, and signature public radio programs from APM, the BBC and PRI. LAist ( is the network’s award-winning website that combines in-depth local coverage with unique insights into life in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, reaching over 7M people per month. LAist Studios (, a brand extension of LAist, is a dedicated podcast development and production studio that furthers SCPR’s commitment to premium on-demand audio storytelling with a uniquely Los Angeles point-of-view driven by representation. Across platforms, SCPR has garnered more than 500 journalistic honors since 1999.


This is a press release which we link to from our daily newsletter about podcasting and on-demand. This is reprinted verbatim; we may rewrite headlines and descriptions.


Norco '80
By LAist Studios

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