You see the crime pursuits happening, hear the sirens blaring, watch news of crimes, and read about them in the newspaper too, it is indeed, everywhere and now all of us know that there is no point trying to avoid this bane of existence on this Earth- Crimes. But what we don’t know thoroughly is the fact that crimes happen after a series of plotting and brain-storming by the criminals and some of the crimes in history have left us baffled by the sheer intelligence of them- let’s have a look at the most brilliant crimes of all time.
10) The Great Train Heist- 2.3 Million Pounds
The Great Train Heist was an incident occurred at the at Bridego railway Bridge in England, back in the 1960`s. A gang of 15 members headed by a shrewd con-artist and thief Bruce Reynolds robbed Royal Mail train heading from Glasgow to London on the West Coast Main Line in the early hours of 8 August 1963. The total amount robbed was a massive 2.3 million pounds. How did they actually do it? They simply used fake signal lights- red, green and yellow to stop the train and knocked off the driver, Jack Mills, using metal bars to ultimately end his career, and then gained access to the train. The simplicity of this crime made it so mind-blowing but it is on the tenth place because after the robbery, the gang hid at Leatherslade Farm where incriminating evidence including fingerprints was found and the ringleaders were sentenced to 30 years in jail.
9) The Harry Winston Heist – $108 Million US
This is one of the most amusing and seriously bold robberies of all time. The Harry Winston Heist happened on December 4, 2008, when four men escaped with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds worth an estimated $108 million US from the Harry Winston boutique in Paris. Exactly how? They used their charms- but the catch is that three of the four men wore long blonde wigs and disguised themselves as women, which helped them charm their way into the famous Paris jewellery store just before closing time. Once inside, they wielded a .357 and a hand grenade and began their pillaging. It took them less than fifteen minutes to escape with the merchandise! Investigators believe it to be the work of the notorious Serbian criminal gang The Pink Panthers, responsible for $132 million in robberies around the world, and have never been caught yet. Duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh, duduh-duduh, duduh-duduh. (Admit it, you sang along).
8) Twin Jewel Thieves– 5 Million Euros
This was the crime of the perfect alibi- you ask why? We will tell you. Kaufhaus Des Westens, the second largest department store in Europe, was rattled when three masked men busted inside on Feb 25, 2009. Using a rope ladder, these masked men ransacked the main floor without ticking off any sensors or alarms. But even this ingenious idea would’ve been the end of them- as they made the fatal error of leaving behind a single glove. But you read the “would’ve” didn’t you because there was a twist, the DNA found on the glove matched TWO people: identical twins named Hassan and Abbas, and this became their saving grace as the German law requires that each person be individually convicted and but seeing that their DNA was so similar, neither could be exclusively pinned to the evidence and thus, German police were forced to set them both free, and the third man is still yet to be found.
7) Gardner Museum Art Theft – $300 Million US
This well thought-out and simple robbery was accomplished on March 18, 1990, the day after Saint Patrick’s Day, when policemen arrived at the door of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, saying that they had received a call about a disturbance in the museum. The security officer let them in, despite of strict regulations that didn’t allow him such authority, as one of the men said he had a warrant for the guard’s arrest if he didn’t comply. The twist: the “policemen” were really criminals in disguise, and as soon as they were in, they quickly handcuffed him and ordered him to call the other guard to the front, who was also met with the same behaviour. The thieves escaped with 13 paintings, including masterworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas, worth three hundred million dollars. To this date, the criminals who accomplished the theft, are still out there, free, nor have the paintings ever been recovered. Were the paintings just for decor then?
6) Frank William Abagnale – more than ten million dollars
You will recognise this con-artist as the one who inspired the Hollywood Movie “Catch me if you can” who enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle for a few years, just by intelligently forging documents and using his, well, charm and powers of persuasion. Even before the age of 21, he had assumed eight false identities, with his victim being his own father, whose credit card he used to buy expensive articles, later on to refund them in cash. He opened several bank accounts in different names, wrote cheques against them, created perfect copies of payroll cheques, depositing them into his various accounts and drew cash from them. Frank also posed as a security guard and collected money from unsuspecting car rental clients at airports (charms, indeed. He assumed the identities of a pilot (just to fly a plane), a teaching assistant, a Physician and an attorney too. He was later on caught but had to serve only five out of twelve years as he is now teaching at the FBI Academy, teaching fraud prevention! (You can’t con a con-man)
5) Japan’s 300 Million Yen Robbery
On December 10, 1968, in Tokyo, Japan a Nihon Shintaku Ginko Bank car, transporting 300 million Yen ($817,000 US) in its trunk, was stolen by a simple yet brilliant plan. A policeman stopped the car claiming that it had a bomb attached to the bottom, freaking out the drivers due to the previous bomb threats the bank had received. The uniformed patrolman started inspecting below the car when smoke and flames could be seen under the vehicle, causing the driver and three other bank men to run for cover. Later on it was found that a flare caused the smoke and the cop was a fake, as he stole the car and ran away, never getting caught till yet. Movie-of-the-Week!
4) Antwerp Diamond Heist – more than $100 million
The Antwerp Diamond Centre located in Antwerp, Belgium was the target of one of the most audacious robberies in history and this is one of the most well-planned and famous robberies as Leonardo Notarbartolo, rented an office above the vaults some 2 ½ years before the robbery to get an access to one of the safety deposit boxes in the Diamond Centre Vault. Posing as a diamond merchant, over the 2 ½ years, Notarbartolo was able to build up his credibility and with his gang of four people, on the weekend of February 15th and 16th 2003 managed to gain access to the vaults and steal the contents of 123, of the 160 safety deposit boxes with a value of over $100 million. They even stole the security footage but a sandwich with Notarbartolo’s DNA was left behind leading to his trial. Miraculously, he spent less than ten years in jail and never revealed who his accomplishes were, and not a penny of the heist has ever been recovered. Damn.
3) The French Vacuum Gang – 600,000 Euros
The award for the simplest, but most ingenious ongoing crimes ever, goes to the French Vacuum Gang, who have been successfully robbing French supermarkets since 2006 after discovering a weakness in French supermarket chain Monoprix` cash storing system that uses suction tubes to deliver cash envelopes from the store to the safe. The gang simply drilled a hole in the tube before the entrance to the safe and inserted a powerful vacuum cleaner, to suck the notes out before they reached the safe. This simple method has been used up to 15 times over the years, and the thieves have got away with nearly 600,000 Euros, and are still not caught, giving them the position they have on this list as these thieves are literally cleaning up.
2) Dan Cooper – 200,000 US Dollars
Dan Cooper is the unidentified hijacker of a Boeing 727 aircraft, flying between Portland, Oregon USA and Seattle Washington, and the only air hijacker who was never found. The hijacker purchased a seat on the aircraft and settled in for the journey by the name of Dan Cooper. The hijacking was done without any complications or violence as he simply handled a note to a flight attendant claiming to have a bomb in his suitcase and ” I will use it if necessary, sit next to me you are being hijacked.” Cooper demanded for $200,000, four parachutes, and a fuel truck waiting at Seattle to refuel the aircraft on arrival. The ransom money was also agreed to ensure safety of passengers. After landing and getting the money, he ordered all passengers and two attendants be released from the plane asked for the aircraft to be flown at as slow a speed as possible to Reno Airport, Nevada. Once the plane was airborne, Cooper ordered the pilot, co-pilot, flight attendant and engineer to stay in the cockpit and when the plane landed, a search of the plane by FBI officers confirmed Cooper was no longer aboard, two of the requested parachutes were missing, along with the ransom money and till now, despite of rigorous man-hunt, no sign of Cooper has ever been found. Most of the marked ransom money remains missing, and the case continues to be the only unsolved air piracy in American aviation history.
1) The Banco Central Tunnel – 71 million US Dollars
This genius theft deserves to be the one to top the list as it was accomplished in a manner we only get to see in the movies. On August 6th, 2005, a gang of thieves tunnelled into Banco Central in Brazil and stole five containers full of banknotes, with an estimated value of 71 million US Dollars and money that was stolen was notes waiting to be examined and were all used and not numbered, subsequently making them almost impossible to trace and theft remained undiscovered until the bank opened on Monday morning. How did they actually do it? The gang rented a property near the bank and dug a tunnel three months before the robbery. They put signs claiming they were a landscaping company to shut down suspicions regarding the dug-out mud. The tunnel was roughly 2.3ft square, lined with wood and plastic, and had lighting and an air circulation system (what if all the stealing gets them sweaty?) By 2007 after several arrests and mysterious deaths, and kidnappings linked to the case, just 8.93 million dollars had been recovered while several of the thieves (counted as 10-25) are still free.
After going through these well-thought crimes one wonders as to how these exceptional minds would work if they are ever used for purposes that are good for the society while other times they simply make us think as to how the heck we didn’t think of this? Please don’t give thoughts to the latter as security systems now are way advanced than what they were before. Or maybe try it- who knows you might end up in a similar list we do ten years later?