The 15 Craziest Heists In Modern History (2023)

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Geoffrey Ingersoll


The 15 Craziest Heists In Modern History (1)

via AFP

Admit it, we've all thought about committing the perfect heist: that one smooth score where a bit of planning and guts delivers more money than most people make in a lifetime.

Some people though, they actually go through with their plan — stealing a load ofdiamonds, speeding onBonnie and Clydecar chases, or military customsclerkssmuggling millions home from war.

The following heists proceed from those requiring the least amount of chutzpah to the one requiring more guts than we can imagine.

Chinese banker steals money, buys lottery tickets, loses money.

The 15 Craziest Heists In Modern History (2)

Flickr/Lottery Monkey

No kidding.

Called the Agriculture Bank Heist, a banker stole a few hundred thousand at first, intending to buy lottery tickets and replace the money. Unbelievably, his logic worked out the first time.

Not the second or the third try, which totaled to about $7 million.

He was arrested and thrown in jail, along with his accomplice.

Robbers plan massive shootout and speedboat chase for Millennium Dome raid, but ...

The 15 Craziest Heists In Modern History (3)

via Wikimedia

Police had them monitored from almost start to finish.

Immediately they set upon a well fortified display case with nail guns and sledge hammers. Just as they were about to gain entry to the "Millennium Star," a 203-carat diamond worth a quarter billion, agents pounced.

No shots fired, everyone arrested — "12 inches from payday," as the robbers would describe later, "It would have been a blinding Christmas."

Con men take art from the Gardner Museum.

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A couple fellows dressed as Boston police officers gained entry, against museum rules, to the Gardner Museum after hours in 1990.

They subdued the guards, tied them up, and promptly headed for the priceless paintings.

They stoleRembrandt, Manet, and Vermeer pieces of art. The statute of limitation for robbery is up, yet no one has admitted the crime.

It remains one of the more mysterious crimes in history, and frames where the artwork was still sit empty on the wall.

Robbers turn on each other in the Great Brinks robbery.

The 15 Craziest Heists In Modern History (5)

Untapped Cities

Eleven men used copied keys to gain entry into a vault and steal about $3 million in assets.

Their plan was to sit on the money until the six year statute of limitations, but a combination of police sluethwork and suspicion eventually set the robbers on each other.

The whole thing turned into a war. There were several attempts at gang land style hits.

The remaining robbers were all eventually found out, and subsequently thrown in jail.

"D.B. Cooper" and the only unsolved air piracy raid in the history of flight.

The 15 Craziest Heists In Modern History (6)

Wikimedia/Luis Argerich

The media dubbed the man "D.B. Cooper" after he hijacked a Boeing 747, extorted $200,000, and then jumped out of the plane with bags full of money.

Cooper, described as calm and polite, really knew his aviation. He gave the crew very specific instructions about air speed, angle of the wings, etc.

The last thing the crew noticed was Cooper tying something to his waist.

Then he was gone.

Though a lot of the money was recovered, Police still haven't found Cooper.

Every man at least dreams of pulling a heist on a train, and these guys did it.

The 15 Craziest Heists In Modern History (7)


"The Great Train Robbery" involved 15 unarmed assailants and a postal train in 1963.

The heist was almost too simple to believe.

The team used a fake signal to get the conductor to stop the train, boarded the car, beat up the guards, and took the money — $41 million in today's dollars.

Simple as that.

Later, cops were able to locate and arrest at least 13 members of the team.

Radio communications almost out the Baker Street Tunnelers.

The 15 Craziest Heists In Modern History (8)

Joseph A. Carr, Wikimedia Commons

In 1971, a group of criminals used a store as a front and literally blasted their way to a London bank vault, where they used metal cutting tools to gain access.

The take was about $3 million.

While blasting away, the crew used a lookout, and communicated via radio. A local radio operator caught some of the transmissions and called the police, who scrambled to about 700 banks before realized the robbers had gotten away.

The Banco Central Burglary may have seen the most amazing engineering skills.

The 15 Craziest Heists In Modern History (9)

Wikimedia Commons

Using an ingenious front as a landscaping company, a group of wily robbers managed to tunnel 250 feet, right beneath Banco Central of Brazil.

The thieves made off with about $70 million. Police made a number of arrests, and recovered $9 million. Many of the groups members are still at large.

Investigators noted the tunnel was well-constructed, with air conditioning and lighting systems.

Well armed, armor-wearing men raid a Swedish "cash depot" using a helicopter, while cops monitor the wrong depot.

The 15 Craziest Heists In Modern History (10)

YouTube Screenshot

At 5:15 a.m., a stolen helicopter(!!) lands on the roof of the cash depot and four armed men jump out.

Witnesses hear a bunch of explosions, and the men reappear carrying sacks of money. Meanwhile, cops are rushing to the scene.

The robber climb back aboard the helo and fly away. Cops later find the helicopter ditched in a field.

Two men are later arrested, and a mafia boss is implicated.

The kicker is that authorities had caught wind of the heist weeks earlier, and placed surveillance on the wrong cash depot.

Pretend customers punch out guards in the Knightsbridge Security Deposit Heist.

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Career criminal Valerio Viccei and company pulled off a brazen, dramatic attack on a U.K. bank just by posing as customers interested in renting a safety deposit box.

They then overpowered guards, forced their way into the boxes, and took off $90 million in merchandise.

Viccei left some of his blood at the scene, but got away clean initially. In a bizarre turn of events, he returned to the U.K. to retrieve his favorite car, and police arrested him.

Some good fellas surprised the world with the "Lufthansa Raid."

The 15 Craziest Heists In Modern History (12)

Warner Bros

This is the famous heist the turned into the movie "Goodfellas."

Going off inside information, Henry Hill and associates carefully planned the raid from start to finish. Their intelligence was staggering — the knew layouts, guard names, protocols ... they even knew that the port authority police, located inside the airport, could auto-lock the doors and exits within 90 seconds of notification.

All said and done, they made off with the equivalent in today's dollars of about $20 million.

None of the money (or jewels, there were also almost a million in jewels) was recovered, but several gang members died in paranoid hits, and several were arrested.

Henry Hill got away though, into the witness protection program. He died at 69 of undisclosed health issues.

Stolen KLM Air cargo truck provided cover for brazen runway robbery.

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Robbers, who had previously stolen a KLM Air cargo truck, pulled on to the runway of the Schiphol Airport in Switzerland.

Not only did they have a truck, but they had KLM uniforms, so they went almost unnoticed. That is, until they pulled up to another truck, pulled out guns, and told its occupiers to get out.

The robbery took place in full view of witnesses. The robbers then calmly got into the truck and fled the scene.

That particular KLM truck was bound for Antwerp, filled with diamonds — $118 million worth.

Saddam Hussein makes a withdrawal from The Central Bank Of Iraq.

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As U.S. troops hit Baghdad like a wrecking ball in 2003, Saddam Hussein sent son Qusay to the Central Bank of Baghdad to get some money.

All of it.

In total, the men made off with $1 billion in cash.

Later, Army soldiers would find $650 million of it stuffed into Hussein's walls.

The soldiers rightly reported the money, only so other soldiers could get caught skimming.

Drag queens hold up exclusive Parisian diamond store in the Harry Winston Heist.

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Emma Campbell via Flickr

In one of the most bizarre heists in history, several men dressed as women stormed a super-exclusive Paris jewelry store.

The robbers, who police dubbed "The Pink Panthers," herded customers and employees into a corner and simply broke into display cases.

They left with $108 million in diamonds, and have yet to be caught.

The Antwerp Diamond Heist may be the most elaborate.

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Mike Clarke/AFP

Easily one of the most referred to heists of modern history.

Leonardo Notarbartolo moved to an apartment next to the Diamond Center and spent three years posing as an Italian diamond merchant to gain rapport.

Notarbartolo's crew, dubbed theSchool of Turin, then conducted one of the most elaborate heists in history — relying on copied keys and fake security camera footage to compromise a multimillion dollar vault.

Notarbartolo was later caught, implicated in the crime for DNA left on a half-eaten sandwich.

Now that you've seen how the wise guys do it ...

The 15 Craziest Heists In Modern History (17)

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