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You Would Not Believe These Five Greatest Heists Of All Time

“No matter how big the trap, there’s always a sneaky mouse willing to steal the cheese.”

The perfect heist requires a combination of cunning, a sufficient amount of planning, a bit of luck and a lot of guts. Most of the biggest heists in history were pulled off without sophisticated technology. Read the stories of these daredevils and their professional brilliance which will leave you dumbstruck.

Banco Central Burglary At Fortaleza

Banco Central in Brazil. Photo: Crime + Investigation

This heist saw amazing engineering skills and was awarded by The Guinness Book of World Records as the”greatest robbery of a bank”. In 2005, posing as a landscaping company, a group of 25 robbers managed to tunnel 250 feet beneath Banco Central of Brazil from a property they had acquired recently near the bank. The tunnel, about 256 feet long and 13 feet below, had its own lighting and air circulating system. On August 6th, after tunnelling for three months, they made off with about $70 million (N25.3 billion). Eight of them were later arrested and the police recovered $9 million(3.3 billion).

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist

Dutch Room in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Photo: Gardner Museum

One of the biggest heists in history, the Gardner Museum heist happened on March 18, 1990. Admittedly responding to a distress call, two men disguised as police officers walked into the museum in Boston. Quickly overcoming the guards, they robbed the very pieces of art that stole hearts. The stolen artworks, including a Rembrandt, Manet, Vermeer and several Degas drawings, were estimated at $500 million (N181 billion), the most valuable theft of private property ever. No robbers were arrested and no piece was recovered. The frames of the stolen artworks still hang empty in remembrance of the heist.

The Central Bank of Iraq Robbery

Central Bank of Iraq. Photo: Arch2O

In 2003, the day before the Coalition invaded Iraq, the greatest heist in known history took place. Saddam Hussein sent his son, Qusay, with a handwritten note to the Central Bank to “withdraw” money. All of it! Aware of every aspect of the bank, they made off with about $1 billion (N362 billion) in $100 bills in strongboxes, needing three lorries to carry it. Approximately $650 million (N235 billion) was later found by US troops hidden in the walls of one of Hussein’s palaces. Although both of Hussein’s sons were killed and he was captured and executed, more than a third of the money was never recovered.

The Great Wilcox Train Robbery

Train. Photo: Wikimedia

On August 8, 1963, at Bridego Railway Bridge in Buckinghamshire, England, a 15-member gang headed by Bruce “Napoleon” Reynolds robbed a postal train in a heist too simple to believe. The unarmed assailants used fake signal lights to stop the train in a remote location. They boarded the car, beat up the guards and driver, and carted away with $41 million (N15 billion). The police later arrested about 13 members of the team using their fingerprints including Ronald Arthur “Ronnie” Biggs who later escaped. However, the money was never recovered.

The Pink Panthers in the Harry Winston Heist

Harry Winston heist. Photo: AFP/ FRANCOIS GUILLOT/ Getty Images

Arguably the most prolific gang of thieves in history, The Pink Panthers were responsible for the greatest jewellery theft of all time. In 2008, four men dressed as women stormed into the exclusive Harry Winston jewellery store in Paris. Armed with guns, they stole almost every piece of jewellery on display and emptied two storage cases in the back. They made a fast getaway with about $108 million (N39 billion) in merchandise. The police found $19 million (N7 billion) worth of jewellery from the heist stuffed in a drain in the Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, but much of the loot was never recovered.

In this article:
Chidirim NdecheHeist
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