Millenium Dome Raid
This one might not fully qualify as a heist, seeing as they weren’t successful, but when it comes to daring, not many live up to this story. On November 7th in the year 2000, these burglars were “12 inches from payday” when undercover police pounced. They’d been under surveillance for months after a botched armored truck robbery. The object they failed to pilfer was the 203 carat diamond, the Millennium Star. After using a digger to break into the Millennium Dome, Aldo Ciarriochi tossed smoke grenades to cover the thieves. Robert Cockram used a nail gun to weaken the glass. Robert Adams went to work with a sledgehammer to smash open the case. The undercover officers decided it was better to let the men destroy everything in sight before arresting them. Regardless, seven men were arrested in connection with the failed robbery. Although they didn’t get the diamond, they certainly possess jewels of their own.
If you’ve seen Goodfellas you’re familiar with the Lufthansa Heist. The infamous Jimmy Burke masterminded this audacious foray into the illegal. In the early hours of a freezing December morning the gang targeted untraceable American bills brought in from Europe and stored at JFK International Airport. An inside man tipped them off to the delivery and divulged every detail they needed to know to pull this off. After subduing security by clubbing him over the head with a gun, six armed men corralled everyone into the lunch room. With extensive knowledge of the facility they forced a guard to take them to the vault, knowing exactly which doors had to be closed before another opened to avoid sounding the alarm. Once they arrived at the proper vault they removed around 40 bags of valuables. The entire action took 64 minutes and netted them over $6 million, almost triple what was expected. Parnell “Stacks” Edwards was supposed to dispose of the van to eliminate any trail, but then he got high. Parking the van in a no parking zone outside his girlfriends apartment led police to discover the vehicle and find Stacks’ fingerprints inside. The police suspected Jimmy Burkes crew almost immediately. Jimmy became increasingly paranoid. That spelled disaster for anyone associated with him. At least ten people with knowledge of the heist were brutally murdered to seal off any loose ends. It didn’t work, and Jimmy Burke went to prison, where he died.
Antwerp Diamond Heist
In a feat that would make Daniel Ocean weep with pride, a group of Italian thieves dubbed “The School of Turin” are believed to have stolen over $100 million. Yes, over one hundred million dollars. In February 2003, the largest diamond heist in the history of the world took place. Alleged ringleader Leonardo Notarbartolo rented an office space in the Diamond Centre building two and a half years earlier. Not only did this give him 24 hour access to the building, he was given a safety deposit box in the vault. What makes this event so puzzling are the extreme security measures in place at the vault. Infrared heat sensors, Doppler radar, seismic sensor, and a lock with over 100 million possible combinations were just a few of the safety measures in place. Not much is known about the actual robbery, but what we do know is that over 123 of the 160 deposit boxes were forced open and over $100 million worth of diamonds, gold, and other jewelry were taken. Although Leo denies any involvement, his DNA matched DNA taken from a half eaten sandwich and was sentenced to ten years in prison. He is out on parole now. If this teaches you anything, it’s that you should always finish your food!
Gardner Museum Theft
Art enthusiasts still cry over this robbery. In March of 1990 two men disguised as police officers tricked a guard into granting them entry after hours. They pretended to arrest the security guards, which prompted the question “Why are you arresting me?”. The thief’s response, “I’m not, this is a robbery”. With no one to stop them they made for the booty. During the 81 minutes they held free reign over priceless objects from across time and space they nabbed 13 works of art worth over $500 million, making it the largest private property theft of all time. Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas were among the artists targeted, as well as a Chinese Guoldest from 1200-1100 B.C. The investigation is still ongoing and operations range from Japan to France and everywhere in between. It is believed the art was in the mid-atlantic in the early 2000’s. The FBI said both original perps are dead, but they refuse to identify them. A $5 million reward is up for the taking if you can point them in the direction of the loot. According to authorities, “the search is narrowing and is almost over.” In a display of faith that the art will one day be returned, there are empty frames still hanging in the Gardner Museum.
Sienna III White Diamond Heist
When Sir Claude Juan Philipe stole the title of Sir from the Royal Family, most thought he was finished with them. Claude had plans of his own. Rumors are whispered in pubs throughout England about how many times Philipe stole the Sienna III White Diamond, but the most well known case comes from the year 1916, the last year Claude Juan was seen the UK. The Royal Family had just celebrated the birth of a new girl. The guards were on heightened awareness because of this, but not on the Sienna III. The exact method used is a mystery. The next morning a total of 7 guards claimed to have no memory of the previous night; one even thought he was at home with his wife in Gloucester. What’s most peculiar is how much was left in the estate. Paintings from the Renaissance and sculptures of priceless value were untouched. The only evidence of Claude’s presence was a note left inside the diamond case. It read: M:EA. Authorities at every level are scrambling to solve this embarrassing case and are seeking help from anyone with knowledge.