Sometimes the bad guys do win. Half the TV shows on television today focus on crime and the people attempting to thwart the efforts of those less-inclined to obey the rules. We’re drawn to the stories of cops and robbers and sometimes we even celebrate those who’ve thwarted our best efforts to catch them. Here are 25 of the most famously successful crimes ever dared.
25 The Salish Sea Foot Mystery
While it might not be an actual crime, the case of the Salish Sea feet is so strange and coincidental most believe there has to be a common thread. Since 2007 numerous severed human feet have washed up on shore along the coast of the Salish Sea in British Columbia. The feet have been both left and right feet and from both men and women. The one common thread is that all of them are wearing some form of running or hiking shoe. Some have been identified and ruled out as murder suspects, and at least one fake has been found.
24 The Metropolitan Designated Case 114
For 17 months in the 1980s, a man known only as the “Monster with 21 Faces” terrorized Japanese corporations. He and his group famously kidnapped Ezaki Glico and attempted to ransom him for 1 billion Yen – but Ezaki escaped. Afterwards the terrorist group began to extort the company, claiming it poisoned their products, namely candy and soda. The “Monster” openly taunted the media before attempting to extort another company president. After extorting Marundai for 50 million Yen. He attempted other robberies and while police thought they had killed him, the “Monster” sent one last taunting message and then disappeared forever.
23 The Death of Alexander Litvinenko
Litvinenko was a Russian agent of the FSB secret service member who sought and received asylum in the United Kingdom. He became mysteriously ill and died a couple days later. It was eventually discovered that he died from poisoning from radioactive Polonium. It was widely believed he was poisoned. Litvinenko had many enemies and despite several accusations by his widow and government officials no one was ever charged with his death.
22 The Amsterdam Diamond Heist
Two men dressed as airport employees somehow used a stolen car to hijack a truck carrying $118 million worth of diamonds at the Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. They did this in public and in broad daylight. The police believed at least one of the thieves was a KLM employee, but they never solved the case.
21 The Murder of JonBenet Ramsey
The sad case of a six-year-old beauty queen being murdered was both tragic and sadly overpublicized. JonBenet was found strangled and beaten to death in her Colorado home in December of 1996. A media frenzy quickly escalated and the parents were implicated in the court of public opinion and by law enforcement agencies. Despite their constant claims of innocence, they remained the prime suspects until 2008 when DNA evidence cleared them. Who the real killer is remains unknown.
20 The Borden Murders
Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in 1892. The affluent couple was well-known in New England - but it what made the crime so unusual was that their daughter Lizzie was the prime suspect. Lizzie was tried but eventually acquitted in a trial that brought forth a series of unusual allegations.
19 Brinks Mat Warehouse Theft
Six robbers broke into a Brinks Warehouse at Heathrow airport in London in 1923. They thought they were stealing $3 million in cash, but instead they found 10 tons of gold bullion worth an estimated $26 million. Even though the masterminds were caught and imprisoned, almost $3 million in gold bullion has never been recovered.
18 Bernie Madoff
17 Harry Winston Heist
In 2008, four men, three of which were dressed as women, broke into a jewelry store just before closing and subdued the employees. They stole $108 million worth of diamonds and the theft was so brazen that Harry Winston stock dropped 9% the next day. No one was ever arrested and the diamonds have yet to be found.
16 Banco Central Bank Robbery
It’s considered one of the most lucrative bank heists in history. On August 6th, 2005, after three months of digging an underground tunnel, a group of thieves managed to break into a bank vault, disable security and make off with $70 million worth of Brazilian reals. The thieves dug the 250-foot long tunnel from a nearby rental property. Five men were eventually arrested, but only $7 million has been recovered thus far.
15 Black Dahlia
Elizabeth Short, a Hollywood actress on the rise, was brutally murdered, butchered, and drained of blood in 1947. Her much publicized murder was never solved despite the massive amount of speculation and glorification in the media.
14 Iraq Bank Heist
Prior to his capture, Saddam Hussein stole nearly $1 billion from the Iraq Central Bank. On orders of his father, Qusay Hussein withdrew over $900 million in cash and fled prior to a US invasion in 2003. Qusay was eventually killed and Saddam captured. After his capture over $600 million in cash was found under Saddam’s house, but $300 million more remains unaccounted for.
13 The Gardner Museum Robbery
Isabella Gardner was a Boston socialite and art collector who left behind an impressive estate. Based on her last wishes, her home was turned into a museum. In 1990 a group of thieves disguised as policemen made off with 13 works of art valued at over $500 million. Despite a massive reward and a television spot on America’s Most Wanted, the thieves have never been identified and the art remains missing.
12 The 1962 Escape from Alcatraz
Three prisoners successfully escaped from Alcatraz prison in 1962 by tunnelling out of their cells with spoons. They made fake heads from soap, toilet paper rolls and real hair to fool the guards and used an inflatable life raft to escape the island. After a 17-year investigation, the FBI closed the case in 1979 believing the inmates drowned in their escape attempt – but recently these claims have been discounted and most believed the inmates were successful in their attempt at freedom.
11 Great Brink's Robbery
In 1950, a group of thieves infiltrated the Brink's headquarters in Boston and made off with $3 million in cash. Initially, their plan was to wait until the statute of limitations was up before spending the money. During their wait, one of their number was arrested and gave up his friends. They unsuccessfully tried to kill the informant several times. Eventually they were all sentenced to prison, but only $58,000 of the money was ever found.
10 The Mona Lisa Theft
Vincenzo Peruggia stole the Mona Lisa in 1911 and returned it to Italy – where he believed it rightfully belonged. Peruggia worked in the Luvre and designed the case the painting was housed in. He was considered a hero back home and only served less than a year in jail for his crime.
9 The Lufthansa Heist
Two groups of mobsters stole $5 million from a secure vault in JFK airport in less than an hour. Unfortunately, the getaway driver failed to destroy the vehicle used for the crime and was eventually caught by police. He ratted out the gang and was later found dead. While many of the criminals involved were sentenced to prison or given witness protection – the money itself was never recovered.
8 Antwerp Diamond Theft
In 2003 a group of thieves known as the School of Turin stole $100 million in cash and diamonds from a diamond dealer in Antwerp. They beat every security measure available by casing the location with an inside employee for two years. They were caught when they dumped some important documents on a nearby farm. The money and diamonds though were never found.
7 The Great Train Robbery
In 1963 a group of train robbers stole $7 million from a British mining car. During their escapade they spoke openly of their hideout. Their loose tongues and fingerprinting nailed 15 thieves. However, one man, Ronnie Brigs, escaped prison and fled to Brazil, where he lived openly until the age of 71 when he finally turned himself in to British authorities.
6 The New Orleans Axe Murderer
An unknown axe murderer killed 12 people in New Orleans in 1918 and 1919, starting with a local grocer and his wife. He often used an axe or razor found on the scene to commit his crimes and bashed in the back door to gain access to the residences and business. Inexplicably, the crimes mysteriously stopped as suddenly as they began. There was some speculation as to who the Axeman was, but no one ever successfully identified him.
5 The Baker Street Robbery
In 1971 a group of London criminals burrowed up through tunnels into a bank and stole over $750,000 worth of cash and jewellery. While using walkie-talkies to communicate, the criminals' conversation was picked up on a local Ham radio. Police managed to listen-in during the entirety of the robbery, but were never able to properly determine which bank was being robbed. Eventually a gag-order was issued and the media was prevented from reporting on the crime. No one ever learned who the criminals were or found any evidence of the missing jewelry.
4 The Zodiac Killings
One of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time, the Zodiac Killer murdered at least seven people and taunted the media with clue-riddled missives that he sent to local San Francisco newspapers. Police interviewed over 2,500 people but no one was ever arrested and the cases remain unsolved to this day.
3 D.B. Cooper
In 1971, on the day before Thanksgiving, D.B. Cooper hijacked a plane bound for Seattle. He ransomed the passengers for $200,000 and four parachutes then commanded the flight crew to take to the air. At 10,000 feet he leapt from the plane and parachuted into the wilderness, never to be seen again. In 1995, a Florida man claiming to be D.B. Cooper confessed on his deathbed – but he was never charged and while some of the money was recovered when a child found it in the woods, the rest of the marked bills never turned-up in circulation.
2 The Lindbergh Kidnapping
In 1932 American hero Charles Lindbergh’s nanny discovered his son’s crib empty and a ransom note. What followed was a bizarre set of circumstances in which a flurry of ransom notes and $50,000 changed hands. Eventually the Lindbergh child’s body was discovered. He’d been dead for two months and it was determined he was never alive during the ransom process. The killer was captured thanks to a quick-thinking store clerk in 1934, but the ransom remains one of the most successful and famous to date.
1 The Whitechapel Murders
In 1888 a man known only as “Jack the Ripper” brutally murdered eleven prostitutes in the Whitechapel District of London. The crimes terrorized the populace and despite numerous theories, extensive media coverage and speculation, and an investigation by Scotland Yard, no one has ever successfully solved the crimes.