Most robbers you hear about are usually bumbling fools – down on their luck, just looking to make a quick buck. But back in the day there were some seriously inspired robbers – we’ve seen movies about them, read books, and now I have a great list for you of the top ten heist stories . Now, I know that we’re here to help you protect your home or business from robbers like these, but sometimes when you see the creativity, ingenuity, and sheer amount of planning that went into these heists, you can’t help but root for the bad guy. Take a look:
The Great Train Robbery: In 1963, a mail train was transporting millions of British pounds. It was boarded by a team of 15 robbers -- the thieves used a fake signal light to stop the train and subsequently stole 120 mail bags containing 2.6 million pounds. The men all escaped the scene, but 13 of them were eventually captured following an investigation by authorities.
The Agricultural Bank of China Robbery:Agricultural Bank of China manager, Ren Xiaofeng, stole 200,000 yuan from the vault. He planned to use the money to buy tons of lottery tickets with the hopes of striking it rich & returning the money before it was noticed. Somehow….the plan worked and he returned the 200,000 yuan in full. His error came next – after his success, he tried, again and again, stealing approximately 51 million yuan ($7 million) in two subsequent thefts. This time the lottery tickets didn’t pay off and they couldn’t return the cash to the vault. Clearly, the error was noticed and the manager was captured.
The Great Brinks Robbery: In 1950 this was the biggest heist in American history. An 11 people team was assembled to copy keys and break into the Brinks building. Once inside the team found a room where people were counting the bank’s money. They managed to take $1.2 million in cash and another $1.5 million in bonds. The original plan was to sit on the money for 6 years until the Statute of Limitations ran out and they wouldn’t be able to be prosecuted. Their plans ran awry when the police caught a whiff and the robbers began to turn on one another. All were eventually caught and convicted.
The Gardner Museum Art Heist: Two men wearing police uniforms conned their way into the museum late one night in 1990. They managed to subdue the security guards on duty and then proceeded to steal several very famous art works by Rembrandt, Degas, Manet and Vermeer without capture. Still to this day, neither of the thieves nor the artworks have been recovered. The works, valued at over $500 million, mark the most successful and mysterious heist of all time.
Central Bank of Iraq Heist: In the middle of the night, a small group of men led by Saddam Hussein’s son Qusay went to the bank with tractor trailors and forcibly stole just under $1 BILLION (yes, with a B) in cash. More than half of this was eventally found stuffed into the walls of Hussein’s palace by US soldiers. No one knows what happened to the rest of the money nor the other men in the heist.
Baker Street Burglary:In London in 1971, a team of thieves tunneled into the Baker Street Bank and stole 3 million pounds worth of cash and valuables from safety deposit boxes. The thieves managed to tunnel to the vault from a nearby shop with the use of heavy equipment. As the heist was finishing up, someone overheard the look-out and reported the heist to the police – but did not know the exact location nor the bank that was being robbed, only that a robbery was occurring. The police frantically searched over seven hundred banks in the area. They were unable to catch the robbers before the heist was complete. Everyone got away.
Harry Winston Heist:a group of four men stormed into one of Paris’s most exclusive jewelry stores, Harry Winston, and made off with $108 million in diamonds. The men entered the store dressed as women and armed guns. They broke open display cases and filled a suitcase with precious stones and made their successful escape. No one from this robbery has been arrested.
Knightsbridge Security Deposit Robbery: In London in 1987 career criminal Valerio Viccei and a small group of accomplices armed with guns managed to make off with 60 million pounds in valuables and cash from safe deposit boxes. The thieves entered the vault to access their own safe deposit box of their own but once inside managed to subdue the security guards and make off with many boxes full of valuables. Police eventually managed to connect the heist with famed Italian criminal Valerio Viccei with the use of a blood sample.
Banco Central Heist: In 2005 in Fortaleza, Brazil a small gang of burglars tunneled over 250 feet to the bank’s vault from a nearby property. The robbers used a landscaping business as a front, which allowed them to openly move massive amounts of dirt and rock out of the tunnel without raising question. After three months of digging, the thieves reached into the vault and stole over 165 million in Brazilian reals ($70 million). Police have caught some of the robbers but a majority still remain at large.
Antwerp Diamond Heist: As the diamond capital of the world Antwerp, Belgium has seen its fair share of robberies. In 2003, a team of criminals stole $100 million in uncut diamonds from the Antwerp Diamond Center vault. The robbers managed to bypass the vault’s multi-million dollar security system, which had been thought to be impenetrable. The thieves escaped without incident, but DNA at the scene helped police track and apprehend several of the gang. None of the diamonds have been recovered. Pretty crazy stuff right? It makes me, for one, glad that I don’t have to protect $100 million worth of diamonds.