My question, however technical it may be: why did the burglars bring crisp new dollar bills with them to the actual break-in?

It might be an obscure Watergate question but no one has focused or even mentioned it. I've read a couple of books, watched All the President's Men and intently listened to available podcasts. None mention the crisp dollar bills!

The burglars brought with them roughly $2300 in new, mostly $100 dollar bills, with serial numbers in sequence! In today's currency that is almost $13,900. But, why bring that money with them at all? The burglars had an accomplice supposedly looking out for them from across the street with binoculars and a radio for communication. He could have kept the money if it was their payment. Was the money supposed to be planted in the Democratic National Committee Headquarters, and if so for what (convoluted) purpose?

Am I missing something obvious, because it feels that way? Please help me out.

  • 2
    If I was about to commit a crime and worried I might need to run from the law, I wouldn't want to have to stop at a bank before lying low...
    – Giter
    Oct 3 '18 at 17:30
  • 2
    Do you have a source for the burglars carrying cash on them? I've never heard anyone mention it before, but Watergate is before my time and I never looked at it very closely.
    – Bobson
    Oct 3 '18 at 18:22
  • 1
    As a nitpick, the issue with sequential serial numbers is only relevant if the money can be traced to an illegal activity. If you ask for money for ransom/extortion, if the numbers are sequential it is easier for law enforcement to say to banks "if a note with a serial between 10000 and 20000 appears, notify me" than "if a note with a serial 10000 or 24945 or 38943 or ...., notify me". But if the notes are not being tracked in origin, then the serials being sequential is just a curiosity that only means that the bank got a batch of them from the Mint.
    – SJuan76
    Oct 3 '18 at 20:33
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    Did they bring cash? Please cite all nontrivial assertions.
    – MCW
    Oct 3 '18 at 22:51

TL;DR? They were paid immediately before the break-in so that they wouldn't chicken out.

The sequential hundred-dollar-bills were found back at the burglars' individual hotel rooms at the Watergate as well as on their persons. Kenneth Dahlberg sent money to Maurice Stans, who sent money to G. Gordon Liddy. Apparently feeling the money had been obfuscated enough, Liddy just cut Barker a check. Barker was the one who just went up to a bank and cashed the check for a big stack of hundred dollar bills, with which he paid the other burglars for their previous service earlier (the money back at their hotel rooms), and then paid them for the break-in as they were doing it, so as to prevent cold feet.


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