Top 10 Biggest Bank Robberies of All Time

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Along with winning the lottery, robbing a bank is a time-honored method used by people who wish to never work again. It is, of course, the more extreme method. ... read more...

  1. The Central Bank of Iraq robbery became the largest bank heist in history. Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, was the mastermind. Qusay Hussein arrived at the Central Bank of Iraq in Baghdad with a handwritten note from his father, ordering that $1 billion in US dollars be withdrawn and released from the country's coffers. The transfer of funds was overseen by three trucks and a number of Iraqi regime officials, including Qusay.

    According to some legal experts, despite the large sum of money, the forced withdrawal may not have been illegal. Saddam Hussein was an absolute dictator who wielded personal and direct control over all aspects of the country's governance, including the central bank and other economic institutions. The $1 billion could even be Saddam Hussein's personal funds amassed over more than two decades of rule in Iraq.

    Initially, American intelligence officials suspected Hussein of attempting to transport the spoils of his reign across the border in order to avoid the American invasion. A team of US Army Special Forces near the Iraq-Syria border reported seeing trucks matching the description crossing the border to flee. Others predicted that Hussein would use the funds to foment resistance within Iraq as American troops advanced across the country. That assessment was shared by many Iraqis. The funds could also have been used to fund the flight of those closest to Iraq's dictator, such as his family and personal friends.

    In the days and weeks that followed, Coalition forces recovered an estimated $650 million from the central bank. They discovered the caches of funds through searches and patrols throughout the country, which led them to the money, which was stashed away in one of Saddam Hussein's other son Uday's palaces. The majority of the money was recovered in the subsequent raids, but the story doesn't end there. American soldiers who were tasked with counting the illicit loot made off with hundreds of thousands of dollars for themselves and their families. Thirty-five service members were apprehended.

    Stolen: Over $920 million
    Vintage Iraqi dinar with Saddam Hussein (
    Vintage Iraqi dinar with Saddam Hussein (

  2. Few details about the 2007 robbery at Dar Es Salaam Bank, a private financial institution in Baghdad, Iraq, are known to this day. Several bank guards allegedly orchestrated the theft. The government suspected the robbers also had contacts within local police and militias, allowing them to pass through Baghdad's numerous checkpoints undetected.

    The robbery of $282 million from a private financial institution, Dar Es Salaam Bank, raised more questions than it answered, and officials remained tight-lipped about the crime. Local police said two guards planned the robbery, but an Interior Ministry official said three guards were involved.

    Both confirmed that the money stolen was in US dollars, not Iraqi dinars. It was unclear why the bank had that much money in dollars on hand, or how the robbers were able to move such a large sum without being discovered. Several officials speculated that the robbers were linked to militias because it would be difficult for them to move without being searched at numerous checkpoints throughout Baghdad.

    Stolen: $282 million
  3. On July 12, 1987, the Knightsbridge Security Deposit Robbery occurred in Cheval Place, Knightsbridge, England, which is part of the City of Westminster in London. This robbery is regarded as one of the biggest bank robberies of all time.

    Valerio Viccei (1955–2000), a lawyer's son who arrived in London in 1986 from his native Italy, where he was wanted for 50 armed robberies, led the robbery. He quickly resumed his robbery career in London to fund his playboy lifestyle. On this occasion, he obtained inside assistance by enlisting the assistance of the center's managing director, Parvez Latif, a cocaine user who was heavily in debt.

    Two men entered the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre on the day of the robbery and asked to rent a safe deposit box. They drew handguns after being led into the vault and subdued the manager and security guards. The thieves then hung a sign on the street-level door stating that the Safe Deposit Centre was temporarily closed, allowing more accomplices to enter. They broke open many of the safe deposit boxes and left with a hoard worth £60 million (roughly US$98 million at the 1987 exchange rate).

    The shift changed one hour after the robbers left, and the new staff discovered the crime and alerted the police. A bloody fingerprint was discovered and traced back to Valerio Viccei by police forensic investigators. Following a period of surveillance, several of his associates were apprehended during a series of coordinated raids on August 12, 1987, and were later convicted of the crime. Viccei, on the other hand, fled to Latin America for a while. When he returned to England to retrieve and ship his Ferrari Testarossa to Latin America, police arrested him by blocking the road, smashing his car's front windscreen, and dragging him out.

    Stolen: $98 million
  4. To continue, Toplist would like to introduce to you the Securitas depot robbery as one of the biggest bank robberies of all time. In 2006, the largest cash robbery in British history occurred at a security services company's warehouse in Kent. In preparation, an insider filmed the interior of the Securitas depot.

    The gang abducted the manager and his family after planning the heist for some time, conducting surveillance, and putting an inside man to work at the depot. He was taken to the warehouse by the robbers and forced to give them access to the cash cages. They tricked their way inside the depot that night and tied up fourteen workers while threatening them with weapons.

    The crew stole approximately $83 million. Despite their deception, some of the robbers were apprehended, and the makeup artist who created the masks became a key witness in the case.

    Stolen: $83 million
  5. The Guinness Book of World Records once named the 2005 Banco Central burglary in Fortaleza, Brazil, one of the biggest bank robberies of all time. The criminals rented a commercial property in the city center three months before the burglary and tunneled 78 meters (256 feet) beneath two city blocks to a position beneath the bank. The gang had renovated the property and erected a sign indicating that it was a landscaping company that sold both natural and artificial grass as well as plants. They dug a 256-foot tunnel up through the vault floor of the bank for three months.

    On Saturday, August 6, 2005, the gang of burglars tunneled into the bank and stole five containers of 50-real notes worth R$164,755,150 (approximately 71.6 million USD at the 2005 exchange rate) and weighing approximately 3.5 tons. The funds were uninsured, according to a bank spokesperson, because the risks were too small to justify the insurance premiums. The burglars were able to avoid or disable the bank's internal alarms and sensors, and the burglary went undetected until the bank reopened the following Monday.

    The Brazilian central bank, Banco Central, is in charge of controlling the money supply. The funds in the vault were to be examined to determine whether they should be recirculated or destroyed. The bills were not sequentially numbered, making it nearly impossible to track them down.

    Stolen: $71.6 million
  6. Six robbers broke into the Brink's-Mat warehouse, Unit 7 of the Heathrow International Trading Estate near Heathrow Airport in West London, England, at 06:40 a.m. on November 26, 1983. The Brink's-Mat burglary was dubbed "the crime of the century."

    Security guard Anthony Black, who was complicit in the robbery, let the gang into the warehouse. Once inside, they poured gasoline on the staff and threatened them with a lit match if they did not reveal the vault's combination numbers. The robbers expected to steal £3.2 million in cash, but instead discovered gold and diamonds.

    They made off with $41 million in loot while wishing the guards a Merry Christmas. The majority of the robbers were apprehended, but the majority of the gold was never recovered. Lloyd's of London paid out compensation for the losses, and several shooting deaths have been linked to the case.

    Stolen: $41 million
  7. The Northern Bank robbery is regarded as one of the biggest bank robberies of all time. On the night of Sunday, December 19, 2004, groups of armed men raided the homes of two Northern Bank employees, one in Downpatrick, County Down, and the other in Poleglass, west Belfast. The robbers disguised themselves as police officers and broke into the homes of two bank managers. Their families were held hostage, and the managers were told to return to work the next day as usual.

    The managers let the thieves into the bank at the end of the day. The robbers stole a total of £26.5 million, including £10 million in uncirculated Northern Bank pound sterling banknotes, £5.5 million in used Northern Bank sterling notes, £4.5 million in used notes supplied by other banks, and smaller cash amounts in other currencies such as euros and US dollars. The police quickly organized an investigation involving 50 detectives. "This was not a lucky crime, this was a well-organized crime," said Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kincaid. The case remains unsolved, and only one person has been arrested for money laundering so far.

    Stolen: $41 million
  8. The British Bank of the Middle East robbery is known as one of the most infamous in the world due to how it occurred, the people involved, and the amount of money stolen in gold. A group of thieves robbed the local branch of the British Bank of the Middle East on rue des Banques on January 20, 1976. This was close to the Place de l'Etoile, the seat of Parliament, and not far from the Grand Seraglio, the Prime Minister's office in the Bab Idriss District, and now HSBC Bank Middle East.

    Despite the fact that the country was in the grip of a civil war at the time, the bank street was unaffected by the events until this point. When Lebanon was in the grip of civil war, a group of robbers decided to capitalize on the chaos. The group used explosives to break through the wall of a Catholic church and enter the nearby British Bank of the Middle East in one of the most daring robberies of all time. They brought professional locksmiths with them to break open the vault.

    The robbers stole $44.5 million in cash, stocks, gold bars, jewelry, and other valuables. Nobody was arrested, and no loot was recovered. The stolen goods are now worth more than three times what they were in 1976.

    Stolen: $20 million - $50 million
  9. The United California bank heist occurred on March 24, 1972, when professional burglars led by Amil Dinsio broke into the safe deposit vault at United California Bank in Laguna Niguel, California, and looted cash and valuables. Amil Dinsio, an Ohio professional criminal, gathered a gang of six robbers and flew them to California. They rented a townhouse and plotted a robbery at a bank where they had heard President Richard Nixon kept a multimillion-dollar slush fund.

    The gang gained access to the vault by blasting a hole in its reinforced concrete roof with dynamite. The crew blew up the vault, stole $30 million in cash and valuables, and fled after meticulously cleaning the town house. The robbers were eventually identified by cops thanks to a generous tip they'd given a taxi driver — and fingerprints found on the inside of the townhouse's dishwasher. This resulted in the arrest and conviction of all of the burglars, as well as the recovery of the majority of the loot.

    Stolen: $30 million
  10. The Dunbar Armored robbery in 1997 is still considered the biggest bank robberies of all time in US history. Allen Pace was the leader, and he turned out to be the worst "safety inspector" the Dunbar Armored trucking company had ever hired.

    Pace timed the security cameras at the Dunbar facility in Los Angeles to avoid them and enlisted the help of five childhood friends to rob the vault. They broke in, assaulted two guards during their lunch breaks, and loaded $18.9 million into a U-Haul truck.

    Despite the fact that the group left almost no evidence, Hill was implicated two years later when he accidentally gave a real estate broker a stack of cash bound with the original currency straps; the broker contacted the police. Hill confessed, implicating the five other robbers and three other men who helped with the money laundering. The pace was sentenced to 24 years in prison in 2001, Boyd to 17 years, and the other four robbers were sentenced to 8 to 10 years. Two of the men who helped with money laundering were sentenced to 2.5 years in prison.

    Stolen: $18.9 million

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