Want to know the world’s biggest Money Heists cases? Then check out the most successful heists in history as either the money or the perpetrators are in the wind.
For criminals, there are no crimes perhaps more enticing than bank robbery. The fame, notoriety, and financial rewards of robbing a bank are enough to entice hackers, gunmen, and even politicians into attempting to rob a bank. Robberies are committed left and right, usually for small amounts of money, however, some robbers choose to go-big-or-go-home.
TheVibely has gathered the 10 most incredible bank heists in history. From the ingeniously brilliant to the just plain dumb, these robbers know how to rob a bank. Unfortunately for them, the robbers have almost always been brought to justice, although most of the money has never been recovered.
1. The Central Bank of Iraq Robbery by Saddam Hussein
Amount Stolen: Over $920 million
The Central Bank of Iraq’s heist by Iraq’s dictator is one of the biggest but retrievable robbery incidents in the history of Iraq and the world at large.
Iraq’s dictator took the money the easy way: he asked. He sent his son and personal assistant with a hand-written note to the bank’s governor, instructing that US$920 million and €90 million be withdrawn by the bank and given to his son Qusay. It was probably hard to say “no.”
Before the American invasion in 2003, the mastermind, Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein sent three trucks to the Central Bank in Baghdad to load the huge money which was nearly $1 billion to “keep it from enemy hands”.
Most of the cash, $650 million, was recovered in the ensuing raids — but it doesn’t end here. Tasked with counting the illicit loot, American soldiers made off with hundreds of thousands of dollars for themselves and their families. Thirty-five service members were caught.
2. The Dar Es Salaam Bank Heist Baghdad by Bank Guards, local police and militias
Amount Stolen: $282 million
The Dar Es Salaam Bank Heist is also one of the biggest bank robberies in the world. This robbery took place in a private financial institution in Baghdad called Dar Es Salaam Bank in 2007 and till now, there haven’t been any further details about it.
The Iraqi Interior Minister did reveal that the whole heist was engineered by a pair of guards who worked for the bank and were allegedly connected to militias roaming the region that allowed them to pass through the many checkpoints across Baghdad undetected.
It’s unclear why the bank had so much American cash on hand to steal. No further information has been released about the whereabouts of the money or those responsible.
3. The Knightsbridge Vault Robbery London by Valerio Viccei
Stolen: $97 million (£62 million)
The Knightsbridge Vault Robbery London which happened in London perpetrated by Italian playboy and career criminal Valerio Viccei in 1987 remains one of the biggest bank robbery cases in the world.
Valerio Viccei was implicated in over 50 different bank robberies during his lifetime and he was declared wanted in Italy.
He and an assistant walked into a bank and asked to rent a safe deposit box. When the men were shown to the vault, they pulled out guns and overpowered the bank manager and guards.
After putting a “closed” sign on a bank door, they let in some friends, broke into as many safe deposit boxes as possible, and made off with millions in cash and valuables.
Viccei fled to South America but was eventually arrested when he returned to England to ship his Ferrari to his new home.
4. The Securitas Depot Robbery
Stolen: $83 million (£53 million)
The Securitas depot robbery remains one of the biggest bank robberies in British history. It was a large heist in a security service company’s warehouse in Tonbridge, Kent, England occurred in 2006.
It began with kidnapping on the evening of 21 February 2006 and ended in the early hours of 22 February, when the criminals left the depot with almost £53 million.
An inside man filmed the interior of the Securitas depot in preparation. The branch manager was kidnapped and was forced to make access to the cash cages while his family was held, hostage.
The crew stole about $83 million. Despite their clever disguises, some of the robbers were caught, and the makeup artist who designed the masks became a key witness in the case.
5. The Banco Central Burglary
Amount Stolen: $71.6 million
The Banco Central Burglary involved $70 million from the vault of the Banco Central branch located in Brazil, on August 6, 2005.
Posing as landscapers, the gang behind this enormous heist spent three months digging a 256-foot tunnel to a position beneath the bank.
Once inside, they stole several containers that held 160 million Brazilian real (worth $71.6 million in 2005). Only eight people were arrested, and just 20 million real was recovered.
The 2005 Banco Central burglary in Fortaleza, Brazil, was once recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s greatest bank robbery.
6. The Brink’s-MAT Robbery
Amount Stolen: $41 million
The Brink’s MAT Robbery occurred at the Heathrow International Trading Estate, London, on 26 November 1983.
Britain’s most notorious bank heist was an inside job.
On the morning of the heist in 1983, a Brink’s-Mat security guard named Anthony Black let a group of robbers into the company’s warehouse. They tied up other guards.
About £26 million worth of gold bullion, diamonds, and cash were stolen from a warehouse. While Much of the gang has been convicted, the gold has never been recovered.
After they made off with $41 million in loot, they wished the guards a merry Christmas on the way out.
7. The Northern Bank Robbery
Amount Stolen: $41 million (£26.5 million)
The week before Christmas 2004, robbers in Belfast, Northern Ireland, disguised themselves as police officers and coaxed them into the homes of two bank managers. Their families were held hostage, and the managers were instructed to go to work as normal the next day, One.Org reports.
When the workday ended, the managers let the thieves into the bank, where they stole about 26.5 million British pounds and additional foreign currencies in the biggest bank robbery in Irish history.
The case is still unsolved and so far only one person has been arrested, for money laundering.
8. The British Bank of The Middle East’s Robbery
Stolen: $20 million – $50 million
In the heat of Lebanon’s civil war in 1976, a group associated with the Palestinian Liberation blasted through the bank’s walls and they reportedly walked away with up to $20-50 million.
In one of the most brazen robberies of all time, the group used explosives to burst through the wall of a Catholic church and enter the neighboring British Bank of the Middle East. They brought with them professional locksmiths to crack open the vault.
The robbers made off with $44.5 million in cash, stocks, gold bars, jewels, and other valuables. None of the loot was recovered and no one was arrested. Today, the stolen goods are worth more than three times their value in 1976.
9. Dunbar Armored Robbery Los Angeles
Amount Stolen: $18.9 million
This operation was masterminded by the then regional safety inspector for Dunbar in 1997 and as of today, it remains one of the unsolved money heists in the history of the United States.
The regional safety inspector was called Allen Pace, he gathered six men to pull off this operation, and interesting enough, all the six people were his childhood friends.
Allen Pace turned out to be the worst “safety inspector” the Dunbar Armored trucking company ever employed.
Pace timed the security cameras at the Dunbar facility in Los Angeles so he could avoid them, and they broke in, assaulted two guards on their lunch breaks, and loaded $18.9 million dollars into a U-Haul.
They almost got away with it — except one robber got sloppy and lent some of the stolen cash to a friend without removing the original cash straps.
10. The Great Train Robbery
Amount Stolen: $3.4 million (£2.6 million)
The Great Train Robbery is one of the biggest bank heists in the history of London.
The theft of £2.6 million (US$3.4 million) doesn’t sound that much these days, but that was big money when thieves stole mailbags from a Royal Mail train in England in 1963 heading from Glasgow.
A gang of 15 robbers was involved in rigging the trackside signals to stop the train in a remote location, where the conductor was overpowered and the loot was stolen.
Most of the 17-strong gang were captured and imprisoned, but Ronnie Biggs and Charles Wilson notoriously both escaped.