Money makes the world go round and it’s clearly evident in our daily life; be it politics, business, movies etc. However not everybody is born rich and therefore to make fortunes one has to go through the grind with perseverance & patience. But there are few who like to avoid this process & take risky lane of shortcuts. Robbing off somebody of his wealth is something which has been there for ages however of late robberies focus more on looting financial institutions because it’s more lucrative a deal.
Here is a list of 10 largest robberies which stunned the world because of its audacity, planning and amount siphoned off.
10. Harry Winston, Paris, 5th December, 2008
$ 108 million
The Jewelry store is famously known as “Jeweler to the Stars”. This store has been repeatedly robbed and 2008 was surprising but still not so surprising to find that it was again robbed by 4 armed men, out of which 3 were dressed as cross gender. Loaded with hand grenade & .357 Magnum they wiped off the display cases kept in the hall and forced the staff to help them in their heist to locate the rest of the jewellery in the store area. They wiped off the entire showroom within 15 minutes without firing a shot and drove away in a waiting car with sacks full of emerald, ruby & diamonds. However their happiness was short-lived and the French Brigade for Repression of Banditry (BRB) caught them within six months. The reason it makes in the largest robberies is because of the sum involved and that it was done in a center which has been looted repeatedly.
9. Antwerp Diamond Heist, Belgium, 16th February, 2003
$ 120 million
Well aware of the world’s 80% supply of uncut diamonds to Antwerp, the robbers made a breakthrough which is unparalleled both in terms of amount and the manner it was executed. The lot size of the robbery was so large that the thieves couldn’t even manage to carry it across all the vaults. They could only open 123 out of 189 vaults. Its planning began 3 years in advance when the gang’s leader Leonardo Notarbartolo rented a building in the Diamond center and posed as Italian Diamond Merchant. He and his 5 member team also managed to wipe off the security camera footages to conceal their identities. The vault had several layers of security and a lock with 100 million combinations. It is still called the “Robbery of the Century” because police still couldn’t figure out How Leonardo managed to break the security of vault. Paramount Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a movie on this directed by J.J Adams and is currently under development. The reason it makes in the largest robberies is because of its detail of planning.
8. United California Bank Robbery, USA, 24th March 1972
You would think that how could $30 million robbery would enter the list of biggest robberies, but mind it, this was in 1972 and its current value would be somewhere around $130 million. Amil Dinsio and his 7 member gang broke into United California Bank Branch in Laguna Niguel and looted the vault. FBI was assigned investigating agency, even they could not estimate the exact amount of robbery. One of the accomplices has written an account of the robbery in the book Superthief. The reason it makes in the largest robberies is its sheer size of loot based on current estimates.
7. Schiphol Airport Case, Amsterdam, 25th February 2005
$ 145 million
This was the value of uncut diamonds which were robbed, Imagine the value had they been rolled into the final market. This is the biggest Diamond heist till date. This robbery was far from flawless planning and execution. They stole a KLM(Dutch Airline) cargo truck and its uniforms 2 weeks prior to the robbery. On 25th February, they straight away drove the truck to the main arena where KLM truck that was carrying uncut diamonds which were supposed to get delivered to Antwerp. They took the drivers out of the truck at gun point and drove away. It was believed that it was an insider’s job because such specific information can’t reach to normal thief. The reason it makes in the largest robberies is its planning and flawless execution.
6. British Bank of the Middle East, Beirut, Lebanon, 20th January, 1976
$ 35 Million+
Lebanon was undergoing a civil war and amidst those, there was rising of PLO, a revolutionary group led by Yasser Arafat who believed in ideology of carving out a homeland for the Palestinian people. For war they needed funds and for funds they looted several banks from which the biggest was British Bank. The group cleaned up gold, jewels, stocks and currency worth $ 35 million plus whose present value would be nearly $ 100 million. They tried a simple thing, blasting off sidewall which was shared by the church. The loot continued for more than 24 hours and then they left freely in open. The reason it makes in the largest robberies is its sheer audacity and duration of loot.
5. Knightsbridge Security Deposit, UK, 12th July 1987
$ 80 million
Valerio Viccei was a well known figure in criminal domain wanted in Italy for over 50 armed robberies. When he migrated to his homeland UK, people knew something is brewing. He along with his accomplices entered the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre with an insider help of non other than the Managing director who was under heavy debt. Concealing their identity they entered the safe room deposit under the pretext of opening one and pulled out their guns to kick start the process. They temporarily closed the center to ensure the smooth loot. In total they took away 60 million euro whose present value would be whopping $174 million. Valerio then fled to Latin America after the robbery but his accomplices were caught in England. Few years later during his return Valerio was caught with a coordinated effort of the police and investigation agency. He was sentenced 22 years of imprisonment and in 1992 deported to Italy where he was again put on trail and jailed for his crime committed in Italy. On the day of his release a gun fight broke out between his accomplice and the police in which he was killed. This glamorous robber’s life has been covered in two books Too Fast to Live (1992) & Live by the Gun, Die by the Gun (2004). This robbery makes into the largest robberies list is the effective use of insider information coupled with the on the feet thinking and execution.
4. Baghdad Bank Robbery, Baghdad, Iraq, 12th July 2007
When the Employees of the Dar Es Salaam bank reached the bank on 12th July, they were shaken by the unlocked doors and opened vaults. They immediately knew what would have happened. It is believed that 3 guards of the bank siphoned off the amount worth quarter billion. It is suspected that local police agencies supported the robbery as it is not easy to move around with $ 282 million. Nobody has been booked till date and the money is still not recovered. It makes into the largest robberies list with its sheer size of loot.
3. Boston Museum, Boston, USA, 18th March 1990
Dressed as police offers the robbers entered the museum stating that they were attending a call made from the center itself. The security guard seated at the alarm button was told about this arrest warrant and asked to summon other guards on duty. All the guard were then handcuffed and taken to the basement where they were tied up against the pillars. Post this the robbers took away whatever art pieces they wished to. Carried out in 18th march 1990 nobody has been ever caught or prosecuted in this case till date. On the contrary the local police requested the robbers to return the paintings after they tried to auction one for $ 2.5 million with the promise that nobody would be prosecuted. It makes into the largest robberies list because of its filmy style of execution and the size of loot
2. City Bonds Robbery, London, 2nd May 1990
John Goddard a 58 years messenger was carrying Bank of England Treasury bills with him in his small briefcase. Moving through the quiet streets of London he was robbed at knifepoint by Patrick Thomas of all the 302 treasury bills he was carrying. All the bills were in bearer form and were as good as cash. The total loot size was a whopping £292 million. Shortly the police was able to recover back all the loot thanks to an informant. Needless to say it’s listed in the largest robberies because of its offbeat style of looting such a large amount at a knifepoint.
1. Central Bank of Iraq, Baghdad, 18th March 2003
Here is the biggest robbery done till date. It might be debatable whether this classifies as a robbery or not because robbing one’s own house with your own guards helping out is totally a different affair. But from the morality perspective it classifies under a robbery. Saddam Hussain, the tyrant planned this act just a day before bombings on Iraq by Coalition Forces. Saddam sent his son Qusay to make a withdrawal on his behalf and a 5 hour operation he left with staggering amount of $ 1 billion. But the forces had the last laugh when they killed both father-son duo and recovered $ 650 million later.