HomeTrendingThe Most Successful Robberies Of All Time

The Most Successful Robberies Of All Time

Acts of robbery rose 1.4% in the United State in 2015, according to the FBI. While an average bank heist nets only a few thousand dollars for the average thief, plenty of robberies elsewhere have let criminals make off with millions of dollars and stolen goods. Here’s a roundup of the most notable incidents in history.


$108 Million In Jewels Stolen From Harry Winston

In early December 2008, four armed men entered Harry Winston in Paris, France shortly before closing time. Three of the men wore wigs and were dressed in women’s clothes.

A Heist Heard Around The World

They forced staff to empty out storage and cleaned out display cases filled with millions of dollars of jewels—all without firing a shot. Harry Winston’s public holdings fell 9% the following morning.

A City Of Diamonds

In 2003, a group of five men assembled their knowledge and prepared to rob. The group’s ringleader, Leonardo Notarbartolo, had posed as a diamond dealer in order to gain trust and entry into the world. The theft was called the heist of the century, as the group had to bypass 10 layers of security measures.

The Heist Of The Century

80% of uncut diamonds in the world make their way through the Belgium city of Antwerp, so it’s no surprise that the city has seen plenty of heists. Notarbartolo was caught after an accomplice failed to burn a garbage bag filled with evidence.

The United California Bank Robbery

Robbers made off with $30 million from a branch of the United California Bank in Laguna Niguel. Adjusted for today’s standards, that’s over $100 million worth of contents lifted from the bank’s safe deposit boxes.

The Largest Cash Robbery In U.S. History

A safety inspector for Dunbar, an armored vehicle company, recruited five of his childhood friends to ambush the guards at a Friday night cash drop in 1997. They almost got away with the $18.9 million theft until one perpetrator confessed to the crime.

The Largest Diamond Heist In History

The value of this heist falls at around $118 million. Four men stole an airline’s cargo truck and uniforms in order to move around the airport undercover. A truck was stocked with a haul of uncut diamonds, and the men ordered the drivers out at gunpoint and drove away.

A Great Train Robbery

In 1963, a gang of 15 robbers hijacked train signals to stop a Royal Mail train carrying high-value packages in the United Kingdom. They’d planned the heist over several months and made off with $4.1 million in stolen goods.

American Cash Stolen In Baghdad

In 2007, a pair of guards working for a Dar Es Salaam bank coordinated a heist that remains shrouded in mystery to this day. The thieves stole $282 million from the bank in Baghdad, Iraq.

Robbery By Terrorists, For Terrorists

In 1976, a terrorist group lifted over £25 million worth of gold, jewels, cash, and stocks from the British Bank of the Middle East. That’s worth over $100 million today.

The Knightsbridge Vault Robbery

Career criminal Valerio Viccei was implicated in over 50 bank robberies in his lifetime, and this 1987 London theft is one of them. With the help of accomplices, he was able to steal £62 million worth of cash, jewelry, and valuables from the bank’s vault.

History’s Biggest Heist—By Saddam

In 2003, Saddam Hussein allegedly ordered this theft of $920 million from the Central Bank of Iraq. It’s unclear to this day exactly how much money has been recovered, but at least $650 million was found in one of Hussein’s palaces.

The Northern Bank Robbery

In 2004, a gang of robbers stole $41 million from a bank in the United Kingdom city of Belfast. After holding bank managers and their families at gunpoint, the robbers were let into the bank after hours. The families were released unharmed.

A Securitas Depot Robbery

In 2006, the largest cash robbery in British history took place when a heavily armed group of cage fighters posed as police officers and stole $83 million.

The “Bling Ring” – Stealing From Celebrities

Between 2008 and 2008, a group of teenagers that became known as the “Bling Ring” burgled the homes of celebrities in California. The teens were able to steal $3 million in cash and belongings from over 50 homes.

The Largest Gold Heist In British History

This 1983 robbery in London took place at the Heathrow Airport. With help from a security guard, six robbers made their way into the Brink’s-Mat warehouse. They’d planned on lifting only £3 million in cash, but they ended up stumbling upon an additional three tons of gold bullion and diamonds.

Tunneling Underground

In 2005, a group of robbers posed as landscapers and rented a commercial property in Fortaleza, Brazil. They spent three months digging a 256-foot tunnel underground, eventually reaching the bank. They were able to remove three and a half tons of Brazilian real notes.

History’s Largest Art Heist

In 1990, two men posed as police officers and convinced security guards to let them into the Gardner Museum in Boston. The men spent 81 minutes carefully selecting 13 works of art and took the museum’s surveillance tapes before departing.

Empty Frames Left Hanging

The pair lifted 13 works of art valued at $500 million, which makes this the largest private property theft in history. Empty frames still hang in the museum to this day.

The Luckiest Mugger…

A mugger approached John Goddard on a quiet London street in 1990. The briefcase he took from Goddard contained a delivery of £292 million in bearer bonds—good as cash.

…Until He Wasn’t

Goddard was held at knifepoint while the mugger was able to leave with 301 Treasury bills. Keith Cheeseman was later arrested in connection to the crime, and police believe that the mugging was carried out by a different man who was found dead of a gunshot wound soon after.

West Coast Couple With A Robbery Romance

This 1991 robbery in Bellevue, Washington was committed by a couple who did plenty of West Coast business in the late 80s and early 90s. John Madison and Carolyn Marie Williams carried out over 50 armed robberies before being prosecuted for this heist in 1994.

France’s Heist Of The Century

In 1992, a group of crooks committed a Bank of France robbery and made off with 146 million francs—one of France’s most spectacular bank heists in history. The suspected mastermind behind the plot committed suicide in prison in 2013.

The Trench Coat Robbery

Two men dressed in trench coats robbed the Seafirst Bank in Lakewood, Washington in 1997. Ray Bowman and William Kirkpatrick were professional robbers and brandished guns at the bank tellers. Despite pulling their robbery off, they were caught.

Tripped Up And Arrested

Kirkpatrick was pulled over for speeding when law enforcement officials found plenty of clues during a search of his car. Bowman didn’t fare any better and was late on a storage locker bill; the facility owner opened it up and alerted police to all of the weapons inside.


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