5 Banco Central in Brazil
So apparently, that whole tunneling into the bank thing they do in movies is actually a viable option. In 2005, a group of between 6 and 10 men rented a house posing as a landscaping company, then proceeded to dig a tunnel over 250 feet deep, that spanned two city blocks, and ran all the way to the Banco Central. The tunnel, which had its own lighting and air conditioning systems, was discovered when the bank reopened for business on a Monday morning in August, and more than $65 million in untraceable bills had disappeared.
4 Great Train Robbery
You know your heist made a mark when it’s given a name with “great” right in the title. In 1963 near Buckinghamshire England, a 15-member gang used tampered signals to stop a travelling post office train known as the “Up Special,” and climbed aboard. Without the use of a single gun (though they did club the conductor over the head, so he probably wasn’t too impressed with their nonviolent methods), the gang overtook the train and managed to steal 120 sacks of bank notes worth $74 million.
3 Knightsbridge Security Deposit
Back in 1987, Valerio Viccei (with an awesome name like that, how could he be anything but a world-class thief?) and an accomplice entered the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Center claiming they were interested in renting a safe deposit box. Once they were in the vault though, they revealed that what they were really interested in was taking a whole bunch of money. They subdued the guards with handguns, broke open deposit boxes, and made off with what equates to roughly $111 million.
2 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
No, this isn’t a deleted scene from Ben Affleck’s director’s cut of The Town, but it sure could be. At 1:24 a.m. on March 18, 1990, with most of the city of Boston still preoccupied with St. Patrick’s Day festivities, two men dressed as police officers knocked on the security entrance door of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The security guards on duty let the “officers” in, and soon found themselves handcuffed and bound with duct tape in the basement, left to think about their impending joblessness while the thieves made off with $300 million worth of paintings and artifacts.
1 Central Bank of Iraq
Just hours before the US commenced with the bombing of Iraq back in 2003, Saddam Hussein decided he’d like to bolster his already massive fortune with a nice cushion of roughly $1 billion. You know, just in case he needed some fallback cash. Though it’s hard to call this an actual “heist” since the money was taken with only a handwritten message from Saddam, who sent his son to the Central Bank of Iraq with a note demanding $920 million be withdrawn, and out of fear of possible repercussions, bank employees simply cooperated.
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