The Largest Burglaries

August 13, 2010 in Burglar alarms

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The average value lost in a home burglary is approximately $2000 USD.  A typical burglar might pat himself on the back for obtaining such an amount.  He would not be quite as proud however, if he knew how his success pales in comparison to large scale bank jobs.  Here are three of the largest grossing burglaries:

#3  Banco Central

In 2005, the Banco Central in Fortaleza, Brazil was robbed.  The group of burglars made off with the equivalent of approximately $94 million USD in crisp, uninsured Brazilian bank notes.  The phrase “made off’ is slightly indescriptive due to the fact that the currency weighed about 3.5 tons.  How did they do it?  Digging.  Three months prior the group rented a nearby property and began to dig a tunnel to the bank’s vault.  Operating under the guise of a landscaping company, the group was able to move truckloads of soil, and the loot, without arousing suspicion.  Brazilian authorities have apprehended many of the people involved.  However, it is unknown how many still remain at large as only $8.93 million has been recovered to date.

#2  Knightsbridge Security robbery

Led by career criminal Valerio Viccei, a group of burglars hit the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre in Knightsbridge, England on July 12, 1987.  The group stole an amount equivalent to $174 million USD by taking the contents of various safety deposit boxes.  Their method of entry was less flashy than the Banco Central robbery.  They walked into the Safe Deposit Centre and requested to rent a safe deposit box.  When they were shown the vault they simply withdrew their pistols and performed an old-fashioned hold-up.  Viccei and his accomplice then put a sign on the front door to signify that the Safe Deposit Centre was temporarily closed.  Along with several more accomplices, he broke open the deposit boxes and hauled the contents away. Viccei successfully escaped to Latin America but was eventually caught when he returned to England to ship his Ferrari to his sanctuary overseas.  He was convicted and spent the remainder of his life in prison before his death in a shootout with police.

#1  Central Bank of Iraq

In the lead as the top grossing burglary is the robbery of the Central Bank of Iraq.  On March 18 2003, one day before the United States bombed Baghdad, the equivalent of $1 billion USD was taken from the Central Bank of Iraq.  The events surrounding the robbery are unclear.  There are unconfirmed accusations that the money was withdrawn on orders from Saddam Hussein.  There are even people who point the finger at certain U.S. government agencies.  Regardless of the real circumstances, one truth stands: that this was the largest grossing heist in history.  At $1 billion USD, this robbery will be hard to top.

To read about bank heists around the world and see how they match up, goto:

Photo via AtomComedy

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