Robbing a bank isn’t a cakewalk. Our ultimate robbery list will tell you why.
1. ABM Amro Bank, Brussels, Belgium – Rs 186 Crore
You hear about people being nice with chocolate, right? I do it all the time with family and friends, but how about carrying out a full-fledged bank robbery with it? Sounds unreal, doesn’t it? Well, hear this – a man named Carlos Hector Flomenbaum (alias) pretending to be a business customer of the ABM Amro Bank for a year charmed his way around the bank’s staff with chocolates and other sweet nothings. I kid you not, he managed to get his hands on the keys of the vault with his sweet talk. Flomenbaum went on to steal diamonds worth $28 million or Rs 186 crore (approx.). What makes this heist even more legendary is that the culprit was never caught.
2. Robbers loot from a moving train, Tamil Nadu, India – Rs 342 crore
Yes, that happened, and quite recently too. A train carrying 228 trunks full of money and weighing around 23 tonnes was looted by robbers from a moving train. They cut through the roof of a railway coach booked by the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) to transport money from Salem in Tamil Nadu. The RBI only got to know about it when the train reached Chennai. Experts believe the robbers boarded the train midway and used steel-cutters and welding machines to make a hole in the roof and escaped with an astronomical sum believed to be around Rs 342 crores!
3. Northern Bank Robbery, Belfast, Ireland – Rs 333 crore
The crime took place the night before the actual robbery when a couple of robbers, disguised as local police officers, entered the homes of two Northern Bank officials. Holding them and their families at gunpoint, they gained the access that was required for them to carry out the heist. They ended up robbing the bank for $50 million or Rs 333 crore. The bank had to recall 300 million pounds worth of bank notes and reissued new ones in different colours, and even though some arrests were made, the robbery still remains unsolved.
4. The Banco Central Robbery, Brazil – Rs 467 crore
This has to be the most elaborate, if not the most creative, robbery in the history of robberies. But how the f**k did they manage to get away with that much money? Posing as a company in the landscaping business, the robbers took up a place near the Banco Central bank and started digging. Taking their own sweet time, they dug a massive tunnel under the 250-foot bank that would open right in the vault. Not only did they dig the tunnel, they even lit the whole place up and installed an air conditioning system because, rob in peace, right? The whole thing took 3 months to build, but was all of this worth it? Hells yeah! Even after all these years, the cops only managed to arrest some suspects and out of the $70 million robbed, only $9 million (Rs 60 crore) has been recovered till now.
5. The British Bank of the Middle East, Beirut, Lebanon – Rs 14,000+ crore
Once you go beyond counting the number of zeros, let me tell you how smart this robbery was. It was the January of 1976; the Lebanon police occupied the country in a civil war when the Palestinian Liberation Organization along with Lebanon’s Christian Phalange blasted through the wall of a nearby church to break the bank. With the help of locksmiths, they opened up the vault. The heist, that lasted about a week, saw the robbers leave with valuables worth $210 million today (Rs 14,000 crore approx), but that isn’t the coolest bit about the robbery. After the robbery, they planned an escape to Switzerland. But here’s the thing, knowing how important the valuables were for the owners, they sold it back to them for a profit of $50-$100 million (Rs 333-667 crore)! If not anything, your management degree might just help you rob a bank in the smartest way possible.
6. Knightsbridge Security Deposit, Italy – Rs 1334+ crore
In July of 1987, Italy saw its famous criminal Valerio Viccei pull off one of the biggest bank robberies ever witnessed, robbing $200 million (Rs 1,334+ crore) in cash, jewellery and more. Knightsbridge was a smart choice for a robbery since a number of rich and famous people of that time had their money and other valuables in the bank. They did it in the most traditional way too. Going in from the front door with handguns, they managed to intimidate the manager and the rest of the staff into submission. Once under control, Viccei asked for back up and told his men to take every little dime from the bank. The criminal would’ve gotten away too, had it not been for his precious Ferrari that was parked at his home. Viccei was nabbed when he went to pick it up.
7. Central Bank of Iraq, Baghdad – Rs 66,000 + crore
At nearly a billion dollars, this has to be the biggest bank robbery ever known to mankind. Beginning 18th of March 2003, barely 24 hours before the US started bombing the living daylights out of Iraq, nearly a billion dollars were stolen from the Central Bank of Iraq over a number of robberies by, wait for it, Saddam Hussein. Saddam had apparently ordered his, Qusay to “withdraw” boxes of $100 bills as “security money”. More than Rs 66,000 crore was loaded onto flatbed trucks. A process that took nearly 5 hours. Technically, it’s not a robbery since Saddam was in power back then. But it was the citizen’s money. What happened to the money, where it’s hidden are questions we still don’t have answers to.
8. Dar Es Salaam, Baghdad – Rs 1,881+ crore
One of the biggest robberies took place in a country ravaged by war. It was also one of the most hush-hush heists. Taking advantage of the time, it is known that the security guards who stayed at the bank overnight were the ones to steal $282 million or Rs 1,881+ crore. The people only realised there was a robbery the next day when the employees found the vault open and the security guards missing.
9. Bank on Sutter Street, San Franciso, U.S.A
It’s not about the money in the one. In fact, the money was so inconsequential here that most papers didn’t even feel the need to mention it. Just appreciate the genius of the robber here. In 2014, a man wearing a Santa Claus costume robbed a bank. Like every other robbery – he came, he slipped in a note to the teller, showed him the weapon and demanded cash. His escape, though, is what legends are made of. He ran down the street in his Santa costume where a giant Santa Claus gathering was taking place. And poof, he disappeared in a sea of Santas!
ByÂ Rishabh Banerji