Some robberies are so big that they made history. More than massive amounts of money, they impressed investigators and people in general for being well planned and audacious. For some thieves, it seems that it's not just about money, but the challenge of breaking into places that people believe are impenetrable.
The complexity and planning of these robberies seems like a plot from a Hollywood movie. Some of the crimes on this list were only solved years later. There are even a few criminals that are still free and enjoying the millions they stole. Curious? Keep scrolling and find out the most expensive robberies ever planned and learn more about the history behind them.
10 Banco Central Burglary - $70 million
In May 2005, a group opened a grass company in Fortaleza, Brazil. However, it was just a cover for the greatest robbery the country has seen . During a three month period the group dug a tunnel into the Banco Central and managed to steal 3.5 tons of notes without being noticed. The group robbed approximately $70 million during the weekend. The bank staff noticed the money was gone on the following Monday.
The police never found the money and the robbery became a Brazilian movie a few years later. In 2018, the police arrested one of the criminals, but the rest of the group is still unknown and might still be enjoying the money.
9 Diamond Robbery in Amsterdam - $80 million
Schiphol Airport is one of the safest in the world. It demands lots of courage and intelligence to perform a robbery there. Back in 2005, a group of daring robbers proved to the world they had both.
They entered the airport dressed like KLM airline crew. They were armed and robbed $80 millions on diamonds that were going to Belgium. They escaped in a KLM van, and it seemed a perfect crime. After years of investigation, they were arrested in 2017. The criminals were living in Amsterdam and Valencia, Spain.
8 Crown Jewels robbery - priceless
Thomas Blood made history in 1671 when he created an ingenious plan to steal the crown jewels in England. He was already a prominent thief and there was a high price for his head. However, he was also a master of disguise. He entered the Tower of London dressed as an Anglican clergyman’s cassock and hired an actress who pretended to be his wife. He became friends with people in the Tower and made several visits to the place. Once he entered the place with three other men and announced the robbery.
However, his plan failed. The guards caught Blood just a few hours later. He was brought to the presence of King Charles II, who forgave him.
7 Brazen Harry Winston Jewel - $90 million
In December 2008, a group of eight men entered the Harry Winston’s in Paris. They were all disguised as women, wearing dresses, heels and wigs when they announced the robbery. Besides the guns, they also had a hand grenade. They left the building with $90 million in jewels and watches.
In 2011 the police found part of the jewelry in a suburb in Paris. From that moment, police officers were finally able to track the criminals. The mastermind behind it was Douadi Yahiaoui, who also led another millionaire robbery in 2007.
6 Antwerp Diamond Centre - $100 million
In February 2003 a group of Italians entered the Antwerp Diamond Centre, in Belgium, and robbed over $100 million in diamonds. It has some similarities to what happened in the Brazilian Central Bank. The group worked during the weekend and cleaned 109 safe boxes. People were made aware of what happened on the following Monday.
Antwerp Diamond Centre is known for its security. However, the group disabled heat-sensing infrared systems by covering the cameras with plastic bags. They also disabled the alarms and before leaving, they stole the security camera videos.
Leonardo Notarbartolo was arrested and accused of being the mastermind behind it.
5 Dar es Salaam Bank - $298 million
Back in 2007, three security guards entered the Dar es Salaam Bank, in Iraq, and took $298 million with them. When the staff arrived to work in the next day, they found the door open and all the money was gone.
The security guards, who usually stay all night, were also gone. The investigators never got the thieves and they did not give many details about the investigation. There are high chances they are now living abroad under new identities. However, this is not the biggest robbery Iraq has seen, as you will see later on.
4 Bank of England Treasury - $300 million
On May 1990 John Goddard, a 58 year-old messenger, left the Bank of England Treasury carrying millions in bonds. Investigators believe that a man called Patrick Thomas approached him and ran away with over $300 million in Treasury bills and certificates of deposit. Any person who had the documents could withdraw the money.
Patrick Thomas was found dead a few months later, and he was never charged for the crime. However, his partner, Keith Cheeseman, was sentenced to jail. This robbery was one of the biggest in the United Kingdom so far.
3 Russian hackers - $100 million
Evgeniy Mikhailovitch Bogachev is better known as Slavik. The Russian hacker is responsible for creating Gameover Zeus and CryptoLocker, two of the most dangerous software ever made.
Slavick controlled 1 million infected computers in several countries. He used the devices to break into U.S. banks systems and steal money. In two years, he made $100 million. Slavik still lives in Russia, where he has a mansion and also a yacht. Although there is a $2.6 prize for information about him, the FBI could never arrest the hacker.
2 Boston Museum Heist -$500 million
In 1990 two police officers arrived at the Boston Museum and told the guard there was an emergency call. They requested to check the area just to make sure everything was ok and the guard allowed them to enter. However, he was then caught off-guard and cuffed by the robbers.
They took 13 valuable paintings from Rembrandt, Vermeer and Degas. The total value of the stolen pieces was $500 million. They never got the thieves and it is still the biggest unsolved robbery case in a museum. There are several theories about who did it, but no definitive conclusions.
1 Saddam Hussein - $1 billion
This is by far the biggest bank heist in history and also the easiest one. All Saddam Hussein had to do was write a letter and send his son, Qusay Hussein, to the Central Bank of Iraq. The document demanded $1 billion in cash. Qusay was not armed, but who would deny a request from Saddam?
This heist happened less than 24 hours before the American army bombed Iraq. To transport the money, it was necessary three tractor-trailers. The U.S. army found $650 million hidden there. However, $350 million were never found.