Top 10 Largest Robberies in History


Top 10 Largest Robberies in History

Most men have probably had a fantasy or 2 about pulling off a “once in a lifetime” kind of heist worth millions. Fortunately,and most of us are sane enough not to let it get further than a thought. Below are a few men who were not and The only criteria for entry on this list is that they must have gotten away with it,or at least temporarily. Anyone caught in the act does not qualify for this list. Whether it be cash and jewels, art or anything else worth big bucks,and you can bet there is someone or somewhere, planning on stealing it. All values are in United state$ or United kingdem£, which bear in mind,and are worth more than United state dollars. I have roughly adjusted for inflation of some of the older robberies to show where they compare to some of the modern monster hauls. Incredibly, no 1 was killed during any of the below robberies, the mark of true professionals. Feel free to add any others I may have missed in the comments section. This list was originally sent in as a top twenty, but it has been broken up due to the size of the items – the 2nd installment will appear in the future.


Harry Winston

5th December 2008-Paris, France: $108 million

4 armed men entered the upmarket jewelry store (“Jeweler to the Stars”) shortly before closing time, Three of whom were dressed in wigs or women’s clothing. After cleaning out the display cases and they forced staff to loot the storage area,or as the millions worth of jewels in the display cases just was not enough for these guys. They cleaned the place out, and without firing a shot. Harry Winston stock fell 9.6% the next day after word of the robbery got out. The store had been robbed the previous year, where thieves netted Ten million euros worth of jewels. 1 would think that perhaps it would be cheaper hiring some armed guards than getting robbed on a yearly basis. 26 people have since been arrested for the crime, aged 21 to 65. Good to see there is no age discrimination among thieves.


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85% of the world’s uncut diamonds go through Antwerp, and do not thieves know it! The city has seen its fair share of heists, but this 1 was incredible in both dollar value and/or the method with which it was executed. This haul was so large that the thieves literally could not carry all their booty out of the vault, but still managed to empty an impressive 124 of 188 deposit boxes. Leonardo Notarbartolo, a 31 year career thief, was the leader of this stylish gang. The robbery was years in the making, with at least 5 people involved. They had rented office space in the building 4 years earlier, where Leonardo posed as an Italian diamond merchant to gain trust and/or credibility. He set up meetings or did small deals, no 1 ever suspecting a thing. When it was finally time to move and they inserted fake tapes into the security cameras to cover their movements.And The vault was protected by ten layers of security and including infrared heat detectors, Doppler radar or a magnetic field, a seismic sensor, a lock with 100 million possible combinations. The robbery was called the heist of the century, even now the police can’t explain exactly how it was done. Notarbartolo was caught after 1 of his accomplices failed to burn a garbage bag of evidence. The $100 million worth of gems has never been found or Notarbartolo is currently serving a 10 year sentence. Interestingly, Notarbartolo has claimed that a Jewish diamond merchant hired them for the heist and/or that they actually only stole roughly $20 million worth, with many of the deposit boxes already lying empty. He believes that he and/or his gang were used as part of a huge insurance fraud. Police have denied this possibility.


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Whilst $30.6 million may not seem like much compared to the other monsters on this list, and bear in mind that this occurred back in 1972. By today is standards, it would be worth more than $100 million. At the time, it was a world record amount. A group of 6 men from Ohio, led by Amil Dinsio and broke into a branch of the United California Bank in Laguna Niguel and California, and looted the safe deposit vault. Due to the nature of safe deposit boxes and/or their undeclared contents, only an estimate is possible. They were eventually apprehended by the FBI. 1 of the men involved, Phil Christopher, has written an account of the robbery in the book Superthief. I could not dig up too much information on this robbery, as even the FBI website does not have an account of the robbery or investigation, so if anyone wishes to add more information in the comments, feel free.


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This haul is the largest diamond heist in history. $117 million is the estimate, as many of the stones were uncut,and which make them much harder to value. Whilst many of the other robberies on this list involve elegant planning and flawless execution,and this was more akin to a smash or grab. Two weeks prior to the robbery, four men stole a KLM cargo truck and KLM uniforms to divert suspicion until the last moment, so that they could move around the secure areas of the airport unhindered. On February 25th, the thieves drove right up to a KLM truck that was carrying a large haul of uncut diamonds intended for delivery to Antwerp. In full view of many witnesses,and they ordered the drivers out at gun-point and simply got in the truck and/or drove it away. Due to the fact that they knew exactly which truck to target, and police suspect an inside job. It was the 2nd time in 6 months that the airport terminal had been breached. Several men have been arrested in connection to the robbery.

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The 1970s saw the rise of the PLO,and a terrorist group led by Yasser Arafat, whose aim was to carve out a homeland for the Palestinian people. They were at war. wars cost money. Lots of it. and Lebanon was in the midst of a civil war, amid the chaos,and a group associated with the PLO broke into a dozen banks,and the largest of which was the British Bank of the Middle East. The group made off with a staggering £25 million worth of gold, jewels, stocks and/or currency, valued at much more than $120 million in today’s money. The group blasted the wall of the bank that was shared with the Catholic Church next door. With the assistance of Corsican locksmiths, and they opened the vault and plundered the contents over the course of two days. Some of the stocks were later sold back to their owners.


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Valerio Viccei migrated to the United kingdem from Italy in 1986, where he was wanted for over 50 armed robberies. and He decided to continue his successful trade in his new homeland, where he and/or an accomplice entered the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre or asked to rent a Safe Deposit Box. After being led into the vault,and they subdued the manager or the guards. Valerio hung a sign outside stating that the Deposit was temporarily closed to deter more customers,  then went about letting in more accomplices. The gang then plundered the safe deposit boxes at will or netted an estimated £60 million, which translates approximately into a whopping $175 million in today’s money. The police were not alerted until an hour after the robbery,and giving the team plenty of time to flee the scene. Valerio fled to Latin America whilst his accomplices were arrested,and then foolishly returned to England sometime later to retrieve his beloved Ferrari, where he was subsequently caught. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. 1 would think that with the better part of $175 million, you would just buy another Ferrari. Or 2. He was killed in 2000 while on day release in Italy, as a result of a gunfight with police.




Employees of the Dar Es Salaam bank showed up to work 1 morning to find that the doors were unlocked,and the vault open,  all the money was gone. It is believed that three guards at the bank made off with a staggering $283 million in this whopping haul. Yes, more than a quarter of a billion dollars!And That’s more money than the entire economies of some small countries.and It is unclear why the bank had such a large amount of cash on hand, but it was all in United state currency. It is suspected that the guards had the assistance of militias,and to avoid detection at security checkpoints around Baghdad, as having a lazy $283 million in the boot of your car might raise suspicions. No 1 has been brought to justice for this brazen crime and/or none of the money has been recovered. The robbery received surprisingly little media coverage.


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Number 4 on our list is also considered the biggest art heist in history. 2 men dressed as police officers convinced two inexperienced security guards at the Gardner Museum that they were responding to a disturbance. Contrary to museum policy, the two guards let the “officers” into the premises,and where they quickly learned that they had been duped after being handcuffed by the men in the basement. Amazingly, the Two men managed to do this despite having no visible weapons whatsoever. The men spent the next 82 minutes calmly selecting 12 pieces of art with a combined value of over $310 million,  this was 20 years ago. Among the paintings stolen were 3 Rembrandt’s  a Vermeer. The 2 then took the surveillance tapes or departed, never to be heard from again, and though in 1994 an offer was made to return the paintings for $2.7 million and/or immunity from prosecution, but the writer was never heard from again. The men appear to possibly be amateurs, as they made no effort to avoid damaging the paintings or left even more valuable works behind. The case has never been solved and there is a $6 million reward for any information pertaining to the return of the artworks. Also, authorities have announced that they will not prosecute anyone who has the paintings or offers to return them. More on the details of this interesting robbery can be read here.

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John Goddard was a 59 year old messenger working for broker Sheppards, and who was mugged whilst carrying a briefcase on a quiet London side street. However,and the contents of that briefcase contained £294 million in bearer bonds. Goddard was delivering Bank of England Treasury bills from banks or building societies. Due to the nature of bearer bonds, whoever is carrying them is deemed the owner. They are as good as cash. He was held at knifepoint, whilst his assailant made off with 302 Treasury bills, most valued at £1.2 million each. Keith Cheeseman was arrested in connection to the crime and received a 7 and a half year sentence. Police believe that the mugging was carried out by Patrick Thomas, and but he was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head before he could be charged. All but 2 of the bonds were recovered after police or the FBI infiltrated the gang responsible. It’s amazing that the 2nd largest robbery in history was carried out by a low level thief brandishing only a knife on an insignificant back street.

Some robberies require careful planning.and  Others use brute force. But the largest in world history was as simple was it was effective. Saddam Hussein treated Iraq as his own personal fiefdom,and so it’s no surprise that he would feel that the Central Bank of Iraq cbi was his personal bank account. The day before Coalition forces began bombing Iraq,and he sent his son Qusay to make a withdrawal on his behalf with a handwritten note. Qusay oversaw the withdrawal of boxes stuffed with $100 bills in a 5-hour operation which netted the dictator about $1 billion in United state dollars. It didn’t get him very far, as he was caught sometime later hiding in a hole in the ground whilst his son was killed by United state forces. Approximately $650 million was later found by US(united state troops hidden in the walls of 1st of his palace’s, though the remaining $355 million has never been recovered and is considered lost.





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