5. The Securitas Depot Robbery
The biggest cash robbery in British history now, and it’s the £53,116,76 (approx $87 million) that was stolen from a Securitas depot in February 2006. The manager of the depot was pulled over by what he thought was a police car (robbers seem to use that trick a lot) and kidnapped before being taken to join his already-kidnapped family. They were then taken to the depot, where the robbers took the cash and left them and 14 members of staff tied up. Eventually five men – Stuart Royle, Jetmir Bucpapa, Roger Coutts, Lea Rusha and Emir Hysenaj – were found guilty of the robbery and given life sentences but at least one suspect – Kayenide ‘Kane’ Patterson – remains at large, presumably with the money.
4. The Great Brink’s Robbery
It’s another Boston-based crime and one that was described as “the crime of the century”, although the criminal masterminds involved all eventually got themselves arrested by the FBI. The robbery took place on January 17 1950, at the Brink’s building. The robbers had practiced the heist for around two years and spent a long time choosing the optimum time of date to commit it. Eventually, it was 6:55PM when the robbers walked in with their copied keys, tied the staff up and left with $1,218,211.29 in cash, and $1,557,183.83 in checks. It took six years for the FBI to pin them down, but all were tried, except for the ones who had died in the interim, and eight of them received life sentences. The crime of the century fell flat at the end it seems…
3. The Antwerp Diamond Heist
Another crime to claim the title “Heist of the Century”, although it’s a different century to the last one. The robbery took place in Antwerp in February 2003 and the robbers, led by Leonardo Notarbartolo, stole $100 million worth of diamonds, making it, at the time, the world’s biggest diamond heist. Notarbartolo had meticulously planned the crime, hiring an office in the diamond center for two and a half years before the robbery, in order to gain both credibility and a 24-hour resident’s access card. Unfortunately, he made a mistake – he left a half-eaten sandwich at the crime scene, and the police were able to trace him using DNA testing. He was jailed for 10 years, but released on parole and has since claimed that someone else paid him to do the robbery.
2. The Lufthansa Raid
Many of our heists have inspired movies, but the biggest movie of all of them has to be Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas”, which took part of its inspiration from the 1978 Lufthansa Raid. The target was a vault at JFK airport, which stored American currency flown back from servicemen in West Germany. The heist was planned by Jimmy Burke, who was associated with the Lucchese crime family, and carried out almost flawlessly by his associates, who walked away with $6 million, three times what Burke was expecting. Then it all went wrong. Parnell “Stacks” Edwards was supposed to dispose of the van used in the robbery but instead left it in a no parking zone, covered with his fingerprints. The FBI knew that Edwards was connected to Burke and started closing in, but Edwards was murdered before he could talk. This set off a spate of murders that saw most of the heist participants killed, along with anyone who could potentially talk to the FBI about it. But justice caught up with Burke eventually and he was convicted of the murder of Richard Eaton in 1985 and died of lung cancer in 1996. The $6 million was never recovered.
1. The Great Train Robbery
When it comes to famous heists, however, there’s only one that everyone knows and that’s the 1963 Great Train Robbery, that took place in Buckinghamshire, England. The 15 robbers, including the famous Ronnie Biggs, got away with £2.6 million, which is around £46 million in modern money and the method they used was almost unbelievably simple. They tampered with the signals, waited for the train to stop and then boarded it and demanded the money from the guards. Of course, they were caught and several of the men received 30 year sentences, with one dying in prison. But they are assured of their place in the history books as the most famous robbers ever.