The Top 10 Biggest Bank Robberies of All Time

Author: Connor Campbell - Bullion & Economics Editor

Published: 6 Feb 2023

Last Updated: 15 Aug 2023


The top 10 biggest bank robberies of all time ranked based on the amount stolen. They showcase the daring and cunning criminals that went to great lengths to make a quick fortune. Some of these bank heists happened in recent times, using technology and insider knowledge to carry out the crime. Despite the efforts of law enforcement, many of these bank robberies remain unsolved and the stolen money has never been recovered. These crimes serve as a reminder of the importance of secure banking practices and the need for vigilant protection of financial assets.

Uncovering the Most Infamous Bank Robberies in History

Banks have been around for centuries, providing a secure place for people to keep their money and valuables. However, that doesn't mean they are immune to robbery attempts. In fact, some of the biggest bank robberies in history have happened in recent times.

In this blog, we'll be looking at the top 10 biggest bank robberies of all time, ranked by the amount that was stolen. From the Dunbar Armoured Robbery to the Central Bank of Iraq Robbery, here's a list of the biggest heists in history.

10) The Dunbar Armoured Robbery

Stolen: $18.9 million (£14 million)

In 1997, a group of six individuals masterminded the largest cash robbery in the history of the United States. The leader of this operation was Allen Pace, who worked at the Dunbar Armored trucking company as a "safety inspector." However, he took advantage of his position to plan and execute the heist.

Pace carefully coordinated the timing of the security cameras at the Dunbar facility in Los Angeles, enabling him to avoid detection while he carried out the robbery. He enlisted the help of five of his childhood friends and, together, they broke into the facility, overpowered two guards who were on their lunch break, and made off with $18.9 million dollars in cash, which they loaded into a U-Haul.

The group was caught, after their scheme was foiled when one member became careless and lent some of the stolen money to a friend without removing the original cash straps.

9) The United California Bank Heist

Stolen: $30 million (£22.5 million)

In 1972, a professional criminal from Ohio, Amil Dinsio, gathered a group of six accomplices and traveled to California to execute a bank robbery. The intended target was a bank where they had heard, incorrectly, that President Richard Nixon kept a multimillion-dollar slush fund.

The perpetrators dynamited their way into the vault, made off with $30 million worth of cash and valuables, and then meticulously cleaned the townhouse they had rented, removing any evidence they had stayed there.

Eventually, the authorities were able to identify the robbers through a generous tip they had given a taxi driver, as well as fingerprints found on the dishwasher in the townhouse, which they had forgotten to empty.

8) The British Bank of the Middle East Robbery

Stolen: $20 million - $50 million (£15 million - £37.5 million)

In 1976, amid the civil war in Lebanon, a group of robbers seized the opportunity to carry out a daring heist. The robbers used explosives to breach the wall of a Catholic church and gain entry to the neighboring British Bank of the Middle East.

They brought professional locksmiths to open the vault, and made off with $44.5 million in cash, stocks, gold bars, jewels, and other valuables.

To this day, none of the stolen goods have been recovered and no one has been arrested for the crime.

7) The Northern Bank Robbery

Stolen: $41 million (£30.75 million)

The week prior to Christmas in 2004, robbers dressed as police officers entered the homes of two bank managers in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and held their families hostage.

The managers were instructed to go to work the following day, where they were met by the robbers, who stole approximately 26.5 million British pounds and other foreign currencies in the biggest bank robbery in Irish history.

The case remains unsolved, and so far only one person has been arrested for money laundering.

6) The Brink's-Mat Burglary

Stolen: $26 million (£19 million)

The Brink's-Mat heist remains a pivotal incident in British criminal lore, transpiring in 1983 at the Brink's-Mat depot near Heathrow Airport in London. The robbers managed to escape with a staggering sum of gold bullion, diamonds, and currency, estimated to be worth £26 million, making it one of the most audacious and impactful robberies of its time.

The mastermind behind the crime was Brian Robinson, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the heist. In addition, the criminals involved in the 1983 Brink's-Mat robbery were eventually caught due to a combination of factors including mistakes made during the planning and execution of the robbery, informant tip-offs to police, and forensic evidence linking the suspects to the crime.

The Brink's-Mat burglary has been the subject of much fascination, and a new BBC TV show called "The Gold" is set to air on 12 February 2023, based on the true events of the robbery.

5) The Banco Central Burglary

Stolen: $71.6 million (£53.7 million)

In 2005, the Banco Central in Fortaleza, Brazil was robbed by a group of 15 men who drilled a tunnel into the bank's vault and made away with $71.6 million in cash and valuables.

The police launched an investigation after the 2005 Banco Central robbery in Fortaleza, Brazil, and were able to track down and arrest several of the robbers, including the mastermind of the crime, Marcos Antonio Goncalves.

Marcos Antonio Goncalves, the mastermind of the heist, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the robbery. The trial shed light on the extent of planning and effort put into the crime, and the Banco Central robbery remains one of the largest bank heists in Brazil's history.

4) The Securitas Depot Robbery

Amount Stolen: $83 million (£62.25 million)

In 2006, the Securitas Depot robbery in Kent, England, became one of the largest cash robberies in British history.

A group of masked men, armed with guns, kidnapped the depot manager, his wife, and their young child. They then forced the manager to open the depot and stole £53 million, equivalent to approximately $83 million USD.

The police launched an extensive investigation, following leads and collecting evidence. Eventually, they were able to track down and arrest several of the robbers, including the mastermind behind the plan. The stolen money was also recovered, although a significant portion of it was never found.

The robbers were sentenced to long prison terms, whilst the mastermind behind the crime was Lee Murray, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the heist. The trial revealed the inner workings of the criminal operation, including the extent of planning and effort put into the robbery.

3) The Knightsbridge Security Deposit Robbery

Stolen: $97 million (£72.75 million)

The Knightsbridge Security Deposit Robbery, also known as the "Lavender Hill Mob" heist, took place on July 12, 1987, in London, England. The crime was carried out by a single individual who posed as a wealthy Arab sheikh and gained entry to the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Center, a high-security vault.

The robber tied up and threatened the staff, and then proceeded to make off with approximately £70+ million in cash, jewellery and other valuables.

This notorious bank robber, who was later identified as Valerio Viccei, a notorious Italian criminal, managed to pull off the heist with remarkable ease, despite the presence of several security measures. He was able to bypass the alarm systems and gain access to the vault, which was supposed to be impenetrable. Viccei managed to evade capture for several years, and the stolen items were never recovered.

In 1990, Viccei was finally arrested in London and sentenced to 22 years in prison. He was later extradited to Italy, where he served additional time for other crimes.

2) The Dar Es Salaam Bank Heist

Stolen: $282 million (£211.5 million)

In 2007, the Dar Es Salaam Bank in Baghdad was robbed by a group of armed men who made away with $282 million in cash and valuables.

The 2007 Dar Es Salaam Bank robbery in Baghdad, Iraq remains shrouded in mystery. Little is known about the specifics of the crime, including the reason behind the large amount of American currency that was reportedly stolen.

According to reports, the heist was executed by several bank guards. It is suspected that the robbers may have had connections with local police and militias, which would have enabled them to successfully navigate the numerous checkpoints throughout Baghdad without being detected.

1) The Central Bank of Iraq Robbery

Stolen: Over $920 million (£687.5 million)

On March 18, 2003, the Central Bank of Iraq in Baghdad was robbed of approximately $920 million in cash, on the eve of the Iraq War.

In the run-up to the Iraq War, Saddam deployed three substantial lorries to the Central Bank, accompanied by his son, Qusay, bearing a handwritten request to withdraw a staggering sum of nearly one billion dollars, with the express intention of safeguarding the funds from the enemy.

Despite the subsequent retrieval of the majority of the pilfered funds through well-orchestrated raids, the saga took a remarkable turn. American soldiers tasked with counting the purloined wealth partook in a subsidiary act of avarice, pilfering hundreds of thousands of dollars for themselves and their families. Ultimately, thirty-five service members were caught and held accountable for their transgression.

This remains as the biggest bank robbery of all time in history and remains as a significant loss for the Iraqi people.

What Can Learn We From Past Bank Robberies?

In conclusion, these top 10 bank robberies showcase the ingenuity and audacity of criminals who will stop at nothing to make a quick fortune. Despite the efforts of law enforcement, many of these robberies remain unsolved, and the stolen money has never been recovered.

These crimes serve as a reminder of the importance of secure banking practices and the need for vigilant protection of our financial assets.

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