When we think of a bank robbery, we normally assume it to be an intense moment; a situation where some guys with black outfits and pistols are holding the bank employees at gunpoint and asking them for cash. But since there is no limit to human creativity and intelligence, some robbers have actually used brilliant methods to carry out the robbery that these instances are worth sharing. Following are 10 of the most interesting robberies in history that you should have a look at.
1. A man in his late 50s gained the trust of a bank in Antwerp by bringing the staff chocolates. As a beloved customer, he was given a VIP pass that gave him access to the vaults after hours. In 2007, he stole over 120,000 carats of diamonds, which were worth $28 million, and vanished.
In 2007, a successful businessman visited the ABN Amro bank 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 at the bank, he became one of the trusted diamond traders and gained access to the vault because all the trusted customers at ABN Amro diamond center were given the keys of the vaults so that their customers could have access to the diamonds at odd hours too.
No one really knows his true name, but at the diamond center, he was known by the name “Carlos Hector Flomenbaum.” The old guy had carefully planned the robbery and stole 120,000 diamonds, a total worth $28 million somewhere between the 2nd to the 5th of March. On the next Monday, officials confirmed that he was using a stolen Argentinian passport.
The diamond center of the bank has a security system worth $2 million but didn’t help stop the robbery by any stretch. “Flomenbaum” went directly into the vault where all the uncut diamonds were stored by using his passcode and walked away with the loot.
Later, authorities confirmed that he was using a false identity because a passport with the same name which he was using was stolen in Israel just a few years ago. (source)
2. A gang of robbers rented a place near a bank posing themselves as an astroturf company. They dig 80 meters deep inside the ground for three months to reach the bank vault and robbed it of cash worth $65 million.
This kind of robbery only seems real in movies but it actually took place in the northern city of Fortaleza, Brazil. This heist was concluded on a weekend dated 6 August 2005 and was not even discovered until Monday morning because the bank had weekends off.
The bank which was robbed was the Banco Central branch located in Fortaleza, in the state of Ceará, Brazil.
According to the neighbors, these were six to ten men who claimed that they were working for a company making artificial turfs and were shipping loads of material every day. The house that they rented was on the opposite side of the bank.
They dig underground up to two blocks, somewhere around 656 feet. They wore out their bodies for three months and looted about 20,000 lbs. of cash worth $65 million.
This was the biggest bank heist in the history of Brazil. The investigation took a long time but 13 suspects have been arrested, and 11% of the money has been recovered so far. (source)
3. A couple of guys disguised as policemen and stole 13 artworks totally valued at $500 million from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990.
On the morning of 18th March 1990, 13 beautiful works of art from famous artists were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
The two robbers used a simple strategy; they posed themselves as cops and rushed inside the museum stating that they were responding to a disturbance call.
The robbers first tied the guards up and executed the robbery within a span of an hour. The paintings were some of the magnificent artworks painted by artists named Rembrandt, Manet, and Vermeer.
The museum has offered a reward of $10 million to the person who will gather authentic information which will potentially lead to the art’s recovery. This is the largest bounty ever placed by a private institution.
The stolen paintings are so dear to the museum authorities that they haven’t even replaced the frame spaces with other paintings. There are just empty frames hanging on those 13 places.
4. A group of six childhood friends robbed the Californian cash-holding company, Dunbar Armored, for the then $18.9 million (now $30.1 million), and the heist became the largest cash robbery that occurred in the US. One among them was just fired from the firm a day before the robbery.
On 12th September 1997, the Dunbar Armored facility, a Californian cash-holding company, was robbed by six childhood friends, and one of them was just fired a day before from the post of regional safety inspector of the same company.
He knew all the details of the bank including the camera locations. The six guys rushed the two guards at the vault, then quickly duct-taped all the employees at the gunpoint, although they didn’t fire a shot. In the next 30 minutes, they collected all the loot in a U-Haul truck and fled.
The company is located on Mateo Street in Los Angeles. The total worth of cash which was wiped away by the group was then $18.9 million.
Following are the names of the robbers: Allen Pace III, the leader, along with childhood friends Erik Damon Boyd, Eugene Lamar Hill Jr., Freddie Lynn McCrary Jr., Terry Wayne Brown Sr., and Thomas Lee Johnson.
The gang did pretty well on their part of leaving no evidence, but the leader, Allen Pace III who was the mastermind behind the entire plan, was caught after two years. He was thrown into the spotlight when he made the mistake of giving a stack of cash bound to a real estate broker.
The stack had an original currency strap, the broker immediately contacted the police, and Allen was very soon under arrest. The man was sentenced to 24 years in prison in 2001. Other members were also caught after some time and were sentenced to prison in various terms of duration. (source)
5. Former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos stole $10 billion in government funds.
The government of the Philippines found on 23 April 1986 that former President Ferdinand Marcos stole $860 million from government funds. The total loss of national funds was $10 billion from the time he was the president, which started in November 1965.
Marcos and his wife, Imelda Marcos, fled to the US in the same year of the discovery. He died on 28 September 1989, and Imelda returned to the Philippines two years later. Imelda was found guilty of corruption in 1993, but after several trials, she was cleared from all the charges in October 1998.
The event has been recorded in The Guinness Book of World Records as “The greatest robbery of a government”. (source)