10 of the most interesting robberies in history

When we think of a bank robbery, we usually assume it is an intense moment; A case where some men in black with pistols are holding bank employees at gunpoint and asking them for money. But since there are no limits to human creativity and intelligence, some thieves have used fantastic methods to carry out the heist in which these cases are worth participating in. Here are 10 of the most sensational robberies in history that you should take a look at.

1- A man in his late fifties gained the trust of an Antwerp bank by bringing chocolates to the staff. As a beloved customer, he was given a VIP pass that gave him access to the vaults after hours. In 2007, he stole more than 120,000 carats of diamonds, which were worth $28 million, and disappeared.

10 of the most interesting robberies in history
Old man robbed jewels.

In 2007, a successful businessman visited ABN Amro in Antwerp for a year. He used to be very friendly with the staff and often bought gifts and chocolates for them.

Being a regular customer of the bank, he became one of their trusted diamond dealers and gained access to the safe because all the trusted customers of the ABN Amro Diamond Center got the keys to the safes so that their customers could access the diamonds in odd hours as well.

No one really knows his real name, but at the Diamond Center, he was known as “Carlos Hector Flumenbaum”. The old man had carefully planned the robbery and stole 120,000 diamonds, with a total value of $28 million somewhere between March 2nd and 5th. And officials confirmed, the next Monday, that he was using a stolen Argentine passport.

The bank’s diamond center has a $2 million security system but it didn’t help stop theft in any way. “Flomenbaum” went straight to the safe where all the uncut diamonds were stored using his passcode and walked away with the loot.

Later, the authorities confirmed that he was using a fake identity because a passport with the same name he was using was stolen in Israel just a few years ago.

2- A gang of thieves has rented a place near a bank pretending to be Astroturf. They dug 80 meters deep into the ground for three months to reach the bank’s vault and stole $65 million in cash from it.

10 of the most interesting robberies in history
1,640ft long tunnel leading to Bank of Brazil. Image credits: Sao Paulo civil police/Dailymail

This type of robbery only seems real in movies but it actually happened in the northern city of Fortaleza, Brazil. This robbery was completed on the weekend of August 6, 2005 and was not discovered until Monday morning because the bank was out for the weekend.

The bank that was robbed was a branch of Banco Central located in Fortaleza, in the state of Ceará, Brazil.

According to neighbors, these were six to ten men who claimed they were working for a company that made artificial turf and shipped in large quantities of the material every day. The house they rented was on the other side of the bank.

They dig underground up to two blocks, somewhere around 656 feet. They exhausted their bodies for three months and looted about 20,000 pounds. $65 million in cash.

This was the largest bank robbery in Brazilian history. The investigation took a long time but 13 suspects have been arrested, and 11% of the money has been recovered so far.

3- Two men disguised as policemen stole 13 works of art with a total value of $500 million from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990.

10 of the most interesting robberies in history
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Image credits: Federal Bureau of Investigation/Wikipedia

On the morning of March 18, 1990, 13 beautiful artworks by famous artists were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

The two robbers used a simple strategy; They introduced themselves as policemen and burst into the museum saying they were responding to a nuisance call.

The thieves first tie up the guards and carry out the robbery within an hour. The paintings were some amazing works of art by artists called Rembrandt, Manet and Vermeer.

The museum has offered a $10 million reward to the person who will collect genuine information that will likely lead to the art’s recovery. This is the largest grant ever offered by a private foundation.

The stolen paintings are so dear to the museum authorities that they have not replaced the frame spaces with other paintings. There are only empty tires hanging in those 13 places.

4- A group of six childhood friends robbed Dunbar Armored Holdings of cash in California for $18.9 million (now $30.1 million), and the robbery became the largest cash robbery ever to occur in the United States. One of them was just fired from the company the day before the theft.

10 of the most interesting robberies in history
Armored car. Image credits: Daniel Lobo/Flickr

On September 12, 1997, the Dunbar Armored Facility, a cash holding company in California, was robbed by six childhood friends, one of whom had been fired the day before as a regional safety inspector at the same company.

He knew all the bank details including the camera locations. The six men rushed to the two guards in the cellar, then quickly taped the entire staff at gunpoint, even though they hadn’t fired a single shot. In the next 30 minutes, they pile all of the loot into a U-Haul truck and escape.

The company is located on Mateo Street in Los Angeles. The total value of cash scanned by the group was $18.9 million.

Here are the names of the robbers: Allen Pace III, Leader, along with childhood friends Eric Damon Boyd, Eugene Lamar Hill Jr., Freddie Lane McCree Jr., Terry Wayne Brown Sr., and Thomas Lee Johnson.

The gang did well on their part to leave no evidence, but the leader, Allen Pace III, who was the mastermind behind the whole plan, was arrested two years later. He was thrown into the spotlight when he made the mistake of giving a pile of cash to a realtor.

The stack had an original coin belt, the broker immediately called the police, and Allen was soon arrested. The man was sentenced to 24 years in prison in 2001. Other members were also arrested after some time and sentenced to different prison terms.

5- Former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos stole $10 billion in government funds.

10 of the most interesting robberies in history
Ferdinand Marcos. Image credits: Dino Bartomucci/Wikimedia

On April 23, 1986, the Philippine government found that former President Ferdinand Marcos had stolen $860 million in government funds. Losses in the national funds totaled $10 billion since he was president, which began in November 1965.

Marcos and his wife, Imelda Marcos, fled to the United States the same year of the discovery. He died on September 28, 1989, and Imelda returned to the Philippines two years later. Imelda was found guilty of corruption in 1993, but after several trials, she was acquitted of all charges in October 1998.

The event is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as “Greatest Government Robbery”.

6- The Great Train Robbery took place on August 8, 1963 on the Bridego Railway Bridge in Ledbourne, UK. The Royal Mail, which was traveling from Glasgow to London, was robbed by a gang of 15 thieves. The loot totaled $3.6 million.

10 of the most interesting robberies in history
The Great Train Robbery. Image credits: Spborthwick/Wikimedia

There was strong and careful planning in the robbery. There was an insider involved in the operation who provided the gang with all the integrated information. He was known as an “Ulsterman”. His original name was Patrick McKenna.

The band leader’s name was Bruce Reynolds. The ransacked train was a Royal Mail train traveling from Glasgow to London on the main west coast and was stolen on Bridego railway bridge, at Ledburn, near Mentmore.

The members used no firearms, but did hit the train driver, Jack Mills, on the head with a metal object. The poor driver never recovered from the accident and never came to work again. The money that was stolen has not been recovered.

The planning was so meticulous that they used one, two, three, etc. as code names to carry out the robbery with ease. They also had the 16th unarmed man who was a retired train driver. After taking the money out of the train, the gang hides at Leatherslade Farm.

The police quickly discovered their locations by collecting all the evidence and almost all the members were arrested and convicted. The leader was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

7- A disused 200-year-old church in a remote area near the village of Komarovo, Russia was completely dismantled and taken away within two months.

10 of the most interesting robberies in history

The church has been near the village of Komarovo since 1809. The area was 186 miles from Moscow and had been completely abandoned by the people and the government. This gave the thieves the perfect opportunity to slowly break down the church, brick by brick, and steal it.

Officials say it was in good condition until July 2009, and in just three months, the only remains at the site are some standing walls and a foundation.

The robbers may have obtained a large sum of money by selling religious icons and classified church structures, which were still useful for building purposes.

The church authorities were looking forward to mass resuming soon, but the thieves made the church disappear before they could even make the first move.

8- $139 million worth of gold bars, cash and diamonds have been stolen from the Heathrow International Trading Estate in London. This infamous incident is known as the “Brinkmate Heist”.

On Saturday, November 26th at 6:40 am, a gang of six robbers crashed into the Brinks Matt warehouse. The thieves gained entry to the vault, bypassing the security system. Once inside, they poured liters of petrol on all the staff and told them to set the numbers to open the cellar.

If they did not tell them, the thieves assured that they would not hesitate to light a match and set them all on fire. The thieves did not expect to find diamonds and gold with the cash.

The majority of the gold was never recovered, but two of the criminals were found guilty, and all losses were paid by the insurance company, Lloyd’s of London. It was found that the case was the cause of several murders thereafter, and is also somehow connected to the Hatton Garden safe deposit robbery in April 2015.

The robbery was so popular that it earned the nickname “the robbery of the century.”

9- An armed New Orleans police officer attempted to steal cash from a restaurant and in the process killed a policeman and two restaurant employees. She returns to the crime scene and pretends to investigate the crime, but is unsuccessful.

10 of the most interesting robberies in history
Antoinette Frank. Image credits: King Prince/FlickrWikipedia

Antoinette René Franck committed this crime in the company of a drug dealer and her lover, Rogers Lackeys. The crime took place just after midnight on March 4, 1995, in a Vietnamese restaurant run by the Pho family.

Ronald Williams, an officer who was a classmate of Frank’s, had just finished working as a security guard for extra money and was getting paid when Frank showed up on the scene with the two men.

Frank shot Williams and the family’s staff, but she did not find the third person, who hid inside the freezer.

Frank returns to the restaurant some time later and pretends to investigate, but the third survivor immediately recognizes Frank and says she was the shooter.

The criminals were indicted on 28 April 1995 and sentenced to death.

10- Japan’s most astute 300 million yen ($2.75 million) robbery was carried out by a man posing as a police officer on the streets of Tokyo on December 10 by lying to four bank employees that their car in which they were carrying the cash had planted dynamite. When the staff ran for their lives, the policeman ran with the vehicle and the money in it.

Four employees of the Kokubunji branch of Nihon Shintako Jinko Bank were carrying bonuses for Toshiba factory workers when the car was suddenly stopped by a young uniformed police officer on a motorcycle.

The policeman went to the four bankers and told a ridiculous lie that their branch manager’s house had been blown up, and not only that, he told them that the police had reported that dynamite had been planted under their car.

The four men responded in a way a normal person would react after hearing such news, and got out of the car.

The police officer bent down to pretend he was looking for dynamite and smoke and flames came out from under the car. The police officer shouted that an explosion was about to happen and the panicked employees started running away. Then the policeman jumped into the driver’s seat and drove away.

The man left no evidence, and the police have not yet been able to arrest anyone.


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