November 24, 2015

Money, Money, money!: A history of the world's biggest heists, in pictures (19pics)

 The Hatton Garden heist. In an audacious raid carried out over the Easter weekend in 2015, the gang made off with gold, jewellery and gems worth more than £14 million, making it England’s biggest ever burglary. Despite a massive police operation which resulted in four of the key players pleading guilty to organising the raid in central London, detectives have only managed to recover items accounting for a third of the haul’s value...
 ...The gang spent up to three years planning the raid, which took from Thursday to Sunday to carry out. They used high powered diamond tipped drills to bore their way through the concrete vault before ransacking 73 boxes.
 In November 1983, a gang of robbers aided by a security guard targeted the Brink's-MAT security warehouse at Heathrow Airport, expecting to find £3m in cash. However, they found three tons of gold bullion worth around £26m and escaped with it. The sudden movement of large amounts of money through a bank in Bristol alerted the police who also found a family connection between the gang and a security guard. The 6,000 gold bars have never been recovered.
Haul: £26,000,000
 £1,500,000 was stolen from a Baker Street street bank on September 11, 1971. Although the cash haul does not appear to compare to more modern heists, in today's money it would have been worth over £16m. However, the reason it has achieved notoriety is for the attempts reputedly made by the authorities to cover it up. A gang tunnelled into the vault holding safety deposit boxes from a nearby shop. The police were warned about the crime after the gang were overheard by a ham-radio operator. Despite checking the bank, the police failed to realise the robbers were inside.
Valerio Viccei, an Italian lawyer's son turned armed robber, moved to London in 1986 and, in July the next year, led a small gang to the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre where they pretended they wanted to open a deposit box. When they got into the vault, they drew guns, subdued the staff and hanged 'closed' signs in the window, before letting in further gang members...
 ...They left with an estimated £40m - but some estimates put the haul as high as £60m. Viccei fled the country and was only arrested when he returned to Britain to ship his Ferrari Testarossa to South America. He was later deported to Italy to serve the remainder of his sentence. In April 2000, during day release from prison, he died in a shoot-out with police.
Haul: £40-60,000,000
 A Serbian criminal group targeted Graff's jeweller in a raid in 2003, when two men armed with revolvers took 47 pieces of diamond jewellery in three minutes. A police search of the flat of one gangmember in London recovered a £500,000 blue diamond ring wrapped in clingfilm and hidden in a pot of face cream.
Haul: £23,000,000
The driver of a Securicor cash delivery van, Graham Huckerby, was forced by a gang to let them in at the Midland Bank Clearing Centre in Salford, Manchester. They escaped with £6.6m in cash. The robbery remains unsolved and none of the money has ever been recovered.
Haul: £6,600,000
 In 2005, a farmer in Maryland returned to the farm, to notice sixty-five "straws" containing the sperm of nearly 50 bulls missing from a tank filled with $75,000 worth of bull semen. Bull semen is considered extremely valuable as it saves breeders the transportation costs of putting a bull and cow into the same pen to mate.
Haul: £45,432
 A gang of armed men disguised as police officers visited the homes of two staff members of the Northern Bank, in Northern Ireland in December 2004, and held their families at gunpoint. The officials were told to go to the bank the next day, work as normal, stay on after closing, and let the gang in, which they did. The criminals escaped, pictured, with £10m of uncirculated sterling banknotes branded as Northern Bank, £5.5m of used Northern Bank sterling notes, £4.5m of circulated sterling notes issued by other banks, and small amounts of other currencies, largely Euros and US dollars. Most has yet to be recovered.
Haul: £26,400,000
 In March 2003, during the first round of Baghdad bombings, a gang broke into the Central Bank of Iraq. They filled up three tractors with cash totalling approximately $1 billion, about half of which was found in Saddam Hussein's palace walls. It is the biggest bank heist in history.
Haul: £605,000,000
 In 2005, Brazil saw its largest bank heist to date. Police estimate that at least 20 members spent three months tunneling 80 metres underground from a nearby house and carted out over $65m. Two suspects have since been caught, and only $500,000 has been found
Haul: £39,374,848
 As he drove home on the evening of February 21, 2006, men posing as police officers kidnapped Colin Dixon, the manager of the Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent, which handled used cash for the Bank of England...
 At the same time, another group of fake policemen kidnapped Mr Dixon's wife and eight-year-old son. The manager was told his family would be harmed if he did not cooperate. In the early hours of the following morning, all three were taken to the depot at gunpoint where the 14 members of staff were tied up...
 ..Less than two hours later, the gang left in lorries loaded with metal cages filled with cash (pictured). Since the robbery, the biggest in British history, police have arrested several people and recovered around £20m in cash
Haul: £53,116,760
 On August 6, 2009, two men in suits walked into the Graff's New Bond Street store, drew handguns and took 43 very expensive items of jewellery, much of it in diamonds...
..They briefly took a female member of staff hostage and fired shots into the air as they fled, before changing vehicles repeatedly and escaping
Haul: £40,000,000
In November 2000, a gang were foiled by police when robbers attempted to pull off what would have been the world's biggest heist. Driving a specially adapted JCB digger the gang attempted to steal twelve diamonds on display at the Millennium Dome. The gems were valued at £350 million.

On August 8, 1963, armed robbers including Ronnie Biggs stole £2.6m in cash from the Glasgow-to-London Royal Mail train, after bringing it to a halt with a fake stop signal. Train driver Jack Mills, who was struck on the head during the robbery, never fully recovered from his injuries and died in 1970. Most of the money - worth about £40m in today's terms - was recovered in the months following the robbery.
Haul: £2,600,000

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