I mean, the most simplest way to prevent getting caught is leaving no tracks behind. E.g. you should have three men (should be enough, in my opinion), and then set a trap for the stage coach. As soon as the coach triggers the trap, kill everyone -> no witnesses, no penalty, nobody knows you (and you get extremely fast rich...).

  • 1
    Isn't this quite conjectural?
    – Rajib
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 16:23
  • What do you mean with that?
    – arc_lupus
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 16:24
  • I believe the answer to your question lies in psychology, not in history. I believe there are many people who would be willing to rob for a living, but would draw the line at murder. I also doubt your conclusion that murderers who are thorough are less likely to be caught; law enforcement is highly motivated to catch cold blooded murderers.
    – MCW
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 16:37
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    This question includes no research. How many stage coach robberies occurred? How many robbers were there? how many were caught? How many were known but not caught? How much money could be made from the average stage coach robbery?
    – MCW
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 16:38
  • 1
    LOL. What's next? Your plan for robbing a supermarket loaded with cash after Thanksgiving weekend? Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 17:26

2 Answers 2


Most stage coach robberies were never solved. The Wild West was - to be redundant - a wild, lawless place, so this is no surprise. Many robberies were simply not pursued because lawmen weren't sufficiently funded, many had to use their own funds to round up a limited posse, or more often, simply posted a reward which is usually funded from a portion of the recovered treasure.

Since it was very likely that you could get away with stage coach robbery, why up the ante by committing murder, when it doesn't increase your payday? Robbers were typically sentenced 5-15 years, whereas first-degree murder was a capital offense. Committing more serious crimes will simply attract more attention from the law and bounty hunters.

  • the idea that the "wild west" was lawless is a myth created by Hollywood. It wasn't, but trained law enforcement people were few and far between. That left a lot of law enforcement on the hands of vigilantes, bounty hunters, and posses. But there definitely were laws and efforts to enforce them.
    – jwenting
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 3:46
  • @jwenting isn't that what Hollywood depicts anyway? The lack of law enforcement? I'm not aware of any Hollywood works that depict a lack of law in this era, certainly not against robberies or murders. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 4:20
  • I don't think that you can tell that someone murder the stagecoach guys, if they are gone (no corpse -> no murder?). Furthermore, I don't think that you can find out who did the robbery (because of no witnesses again). So, my payday is extremely decreased, because no one is thinking of me as the guilty one...
    – arc_lupus
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 7:22
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    Murder attracts more law enforcement interest than robbery by far. And there are always witnesses to a murder, the ones that did it. You have to shut them up as well.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 17:42
  • @congusbongus Hollywood depicts mostly corrupt sheriffs and Robin Hood style good guy criminals. IOW "the Law" being bad. There might be laws, but they're either not enforced by the designated men or they're bad laws and it's "the good fight" to break them and get away with it.
    – jwenting
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 1:24

For one, killing people goes against people's conscience; people don't typically kill just for the sake of it. The witness is stranded on the road side and all he can say is he saw someone in a mask.

Two, you don't bite the hand that feeds you; if you kill the rich, you will deter the rich from travelling in the future. If they are a little out of pocket they may see it more as an inconvenience than a threat.

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