The world is not devoid of stories about intelligent and clever thief executing heists that would put even the most creative scriptwriters of Hollywood to rest. With current advancements in technology, security hardware & software, security shouldn’t be a concern anymore, but intelligence doesn’t know obstacles. Clever “robbers” find a way, anyhow, and go on to lengths to fulfill their baked plan.
We have a culture that gets loves stories of a perfect crime. And this by far is the reason why movies like The Italian Job and Ocean’s Eleven did so well. History is filled with instances where the criminal mind beat the top-notch brains amongst the cops.
Today, we’ll look at the stories of the top 10 most intelligent heists ever in the recorded modern history, that left us awestruck.
10.| The Pink Panthers
The Pink Panthers is cult Serbian group that is infamously renowned for looting jewelry and diamond shops. They were the group behind the notorious £85 million diamond loot at Harry Winston’s Paris jewelry store. Apparently, the Pink Panthers were audacious enough to rampage into the store as women and ran away with all those diamonds.
Times were good for the Pink Panthers, as a report suggests, they were behind almost 400 robberies gathering about 350 million Euros in their 15 years of existence. The Interpol caught them in Serbia in July 2018 and found them linked with many notorious illegal businesses such as loansharking and also an illicit drug business.
9.| The British Graff Robbery
On August 6, 2009, 2 men entered the renowned Graff Diamonds Store in London and became the part of Britain’s largest gem heist at the time. The two robbers now identified as Craig Calderwood and Aman Kassaye entered the store with professional make-up applied to deceive the CCTVs and create a rampage situation. They went ahead to steal about $65 million.
They were foolishly caught because of a phone they left, and the car they abandoned, which they intelligently switched to deceive the cops. Furthermore, none of the jewelry stolen from the store made it back.
8.| The Trust Company Securities Theft
If we are going to talk Modern History, we cannot leave behind the jaw-dropping and intelligently planned theft of United States Dollars from the Bank of America. Back in December 1934, the United States Trust Company became a victim of a pretty clever theft conducted in a manner, that made it almost non-existent. About $600,000 (about $12 million in today’s currency) was stolen in the form of United States Treasury security bills.
About 14 securities consisting of $100,000 and $10,000 were stolen, and nobody could be found guilty. It was only when the FBI and someone tried to redeem them, that the masterminds behind the theft were caught. Over the next 5 years, until 1939, 15 were arrested linking to theft of the same kind. The Trust Company Securities Theft is still regarded as one of the most intelligent heists of the 20th century.
7.| Japan’s Toshiba Heist
This one can amaze even the best of the Hollywood writers when it comes to the planning and the scale to which the investigation carried on. Imagine you are one of the most crucial bank employees, transporting about $4 million United States Dollar worth of Japanese Yen to Toshiba, one of the conglomerates of the country. As everything was going fine, you get told by a policeman that your vehicle might be a target of the bombing. He tells you that your manager has already died while their house was attacked with a similar bomb.
As you were about to understand the plight, the car suddenly goes up in smoke, and all you can do is run. And you did run away only to realize that there’s no one there left, and the smoke was just from a flare. On December 10, 2018, this was the plight of these 4 Japanese Bank employees. There was a plethora of evidence, but it was later found that it was only to distract the investigators. About 150K officers were deployed for the investigation to search suspects. Even the passing of a legal statute of limitations couldn’t help the suspects turn up.
6.| Antwerp’s Heist of the Century
In 2003, a diamond heist in Belgium became the “Heist of the Century” owing to the astounding loot from “safe” deposit boxes containing diamonds and other valuables. After living near the Antwerp Diamond Center in Belgium for over 3 years and disguising himself as an Italian Merchant, Leonardo Notarbartolo notoriously carried out the heist in the month of February 2003.
About 123 vaults from the present 160 vaults were opened and about $100 million worth of valuables were stolen. After several years, Notarbartolo stated in a WIRED interview that the heist was a setup by the owner to get the insurance money.
5.| Brink’s Security and USA’s Biggest Heist
It is pretty ironic when a security company gets robbed, but Brink’s has never been a fortunate company when it comes to this. On January 17, 1950, a fleet of masked men broke levels of security in the Brink’s Vehicle Depot, keeping employees on gunpoint. Half an hour later, they broke out with about $3 million in cash and securities.
The crime was perfect, and at a point was deemed “the crime of the century”, and was, in fact, USA’s Biggest Heist ever. Even the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) couldn’t find credible leads. Just days before the statute of limitation would’ve passed, a feud in the group lead one of the convicts to give out the identities to the authorities. The culprits were caught, but the cash remained at large.
4.| The $500 Million Boston Museum Heist
Isabella Stewart Gardner, an art collector active in the 1800s, built a museum out of all of her collections. On March 18, 1990, 2 men posing as policemen answering an emergency call, reached the museum. They tied the employees while stealing artworks totaling to a value of over $500 million. Later, an investigation from the FBI also couldn’t reach a conclusive result.
In 2018, a price of over $10 million was issued to anyone who could provide information about the culprits. Even after 30 years of the heist, the culprits remain at large. Investigators were initially were perplexed by the paintings they chose because a lot of more valuable art pieces were left behind.
3.| Moriarty and the Pearl Necklace Robbery
To outsmart thieves, a Paris-based jeweler sent a necklace consisting of valuable pearls estimated to be about $15 million, was sent to London through the mail. When the mail was received, the seals were in place, and it seemed as if the idea worked until the pack was open. All they could find was sugar cubes.
A perfect heist had been committed. When culprits were caught, by hooking them up with an undercover cop posing as a buyer, it was revealed that some employees in the post offices were involved. They were paid about $1K to replace the content with the cubes. The leader and mastermind behind the heist, Joseph Grizzard is being compared to Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes’ novel series by Doyle.
2. | Saddam, the Bank of Iraq and 1 billion US Dollars
Just before Saddam Hussein, the notorious dictator of Iraq was to be deposed by the US Government, after the invasion of the country, he tried to get away with 1 billion US Dollars. Saddam asked his son Qusay to deliver a handwritten note to the bank, instructing them to give the money in cash.
Out of sheer fear, the bank couldn’t deny the order. After the execution of Saddam, and the death of Qusay, the money went into the hands of the US Army and has been circulating in US Banks. Crucial military personnel in the ranks of Major and Captain have been accused of making the money “disappear” into their own bank accounts.
1. | Monopoly and the Train Heist without Arms
“The Great Train Robbery”, one of Britain’s most infamous heist is also a landmark when it comes to perfect heists. In August 1963, Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind with his gang consisting of 11 members changed the Railway signals to halt a Royal Mail train containing valuables and cash. Without any arms with them, they knocked out the train driver with a blow on the head and looted the entire train.
They stole about 2.5 Million Pounds (about 35 Million Pounds today). They were only caught because of there fingerprints which they left after playing monopoly with all the cash piled up beside. Furthermore, they were sentenced to about a total of 300+ years in prison, of which they served only a portion.
There are other countless instances of intelligent heists that took place in our notable history. It only goes on to prove that the human intellect knows no limit. Although, it also does promote the innocent message that when a mind as clever as the thieves is put to productive work, then it can yield tools for a better world.