56 safety deposit boxes were broken into after thieves drilled through a concrete wall to enter an underground vault. It’s not known how they got access to the building, but once inside they climbed down a lift shaft to get to the basement level.
Up to £2 million worth of jewellery and diamonds were stolen. The thieves even set off an alarm… which the police thought didn’t need a further investigation.
It’s not just a young mans game: one of the men arrested was 76 years old.
Scenes of Reason investigate some of the other top heists in history.
USA: Unlike the Hatton Garden Heist, sometimes you don’t need a whole gang to pull off a robbery. In 1971 a man known as D.B. Cooper boarded a plane, waited until it took off, and then ransomed the passengers for $200,000.
After swapping the passengers for the money at a nearby airport, he ordered the crew to take off again and then jumped out of the plane somewhere near Portland and Seattle. To this day neither he nor the money has been found…
1855: 91kg of gold was stolen from a train heading for France. The gold was sealed in boxes and it was only when the boxes were opened in Paris that it was discovered that the gold had been replaced with lead.
For months the police searched for clues but got nowhere. It was a year before the culprits were arrested. The mastermind behind the robbery was Edward Pierce – a former railway employee. As they say, keep your friends close.
In 1979 Sean Connery starred as Pierce in a fictional version of the Great Train Robbery, although in the film version he’s portrayed as a Victorian Gentleman rather than a railway worker.
UK: Back in 1963 a train travelling from Scotland to London carried £2.3 million pounds which was en-route to be burned. Yes, burned. The notes were due to be taken out of circulation, so this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
A gang of 15 criminals fixed a train signal on red which meant that the train stopped in the middle of no-where. They then detached the carriage with the money in, and made off with the cash.
It’s never over ‘til it’s over: carried away by their success the robbers played a game of monopoly with the stolen money. A failed attempt to burn down the barn they had stayed in left incriminating fingerprints which would eventually lead back to them.
Until the Hatton Garden Heist, this robbery was regarded as one of the most spectacular of its time. Oh, and if you think it’s a lot of bother for just £2 million, back in those days it was worth a lot more: try £40 million.
USA: John F. Kennedy Airport, 1978
Sometimes you don’t need a fancy plan – brute force and a couple of guns will get you a long way.
$6 million in US dollar bills, $1 million in jewellery and several millions in foreign currency was set to be shipped from Germany to Manhattan. However the airport decided to hold a loot at the airport.
Big mistake: a team of masked gunmen hijacked the airport and made off with the whole lot. When police found the getaway car all that was left inside was an empty envelope with “John F. Kennedy Airport” written on it. Talk about taking the mick.
Now called the less catchy “02 Arena”, the dome was constructed at the beginning of the new millennium.
The star in its crown: the $250 million gem “The Millennium Star” which formed part of a world-class diamond exhibit.
Four criminals used a JCB to smash through security: not exactly inconspicuous. They then tried to break through the security glass with a nail gun.
The police had been waiting for them however. Armed officers who had been disguised as cleaners surrounded the gang and arrested them red-handed.
Will they ever learn: One of the team was later caught at the scene of another crime. Does this mean we’ll be seeing the handiwork of the Hatton Garden Heist team in the future?