Sometimes people go to extreme lengths to get their hands on some extra money, some even resorting to breaking the law. Multi-million-pound robberies sound like the kind of stuff action movies are made of – but they do happen!
Read on to find out more about the five biggest heists that have occurred in the UK. The ranking is based on the value of the goods stolen at the time, rather than adjusting the figure for inflation.
© Andrey Burmakin / Shutterstock.com
1. Securitas depot robbery, Tonbridge, Kent
In 2006, the Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent (they handled the Bank of England’s cash) was targeted in a £53.1 million robbery. Criminals dressed as police officers kidnapped the depot manager, Colin Dixon, on 21st February. At the same time, other members of the gang also posed as police officers to kidnap his wife and eight-year-old son.
Fourteen members of staff were tied up and Dixon, his wife and son were held at gunpoint. No one was injured and the gang fled at 2.45 am with more than £53 million in cash. Some of the money was later recovered and the ringleaders were jailed following a massive police investigation.
2. Graff Jewellers robbery, London, 2009
The Graff Jewellers robbery took place at 4.40 pm on 6th August 2009, when two men, smartly dressed in suits, walked into the exclusive store on New Bond Street in London. Posing as customers, they were armed with handguns and fled with items of mainly diamond jewellery with a total value of £40 million.
Before the robbery, they spent four hours with professional makeup artists, using latex prosthetics and wigs to disguise their appearance. They held sales assistant Petra Ehnar hostage at gunpoint to make their getaway.
They were caught because a gang member dropped his mobile phone in one of the getaway cars. However, most of the stolen jewellery wasn’t recovered.
3. Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre robbery, 1987
A small gang entered the vault of Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre in London on 12th July 1987. Led by Valerio Viccei, the son of an Italian lawyer, they pulled out guns on entering the building and escaped with an estimated £40 million. Some media reports put the figure even higher at an unconfirmed £62 million.
Viccei escaped the country but was arrested when he returned to the UK to ship his Ferrari sports car to South America. He died in a hail of police bullets in April 2000, at the age of 45. He had been extradited from Britain to Pescara Prison, in Italy, in 1996.
The Italian prison system allowed him a life of semi-liberty, as long as he returned to his cell at night. Believed to be planning his next crime, he was killed as he struggled with a police officer in the street.
4. Northern Bank robbery, Belfast, 2004
Armed men, disguised as police officers, carried out the Northern Bank robbery, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 19th December 2004. On visiting the homes of staff members, they held their families hostage at gunpoint. The two employees were told to go to the bank the next day and let the gang in while working as normal. The gang escaped with £26.4 million cash.
Although several people were convicted of crimes uncovered during the subsequent police investigation, no one was ever found directly responsible for the robbery. The police investigation is still open, with the case classed as unsolved.
5. Brink’s-Mat robbery, Heathrow Airport, 1983
The infamous Brink’s-Mat robbery, at Heathrow Airport, saw robbers escape with £26 million on 26th November 1983. Six armed robbers, helped by an insider (a security guard) entered the warehouse expecting to find £3 million in cash. They actually found £26 million of gold bullion, weighing three tons. They used a forklift truck to load the getaway van.
Some of the gang foolishly started spending money like there was no tomorrow, which helped the police investigation. Although some were caught and sentenced, much of the money and gold was never recovered. It was believed the gold had been melted down and made into jewellery and other goods that could be sold.
If you’re finding it hard to make ends meet, there’s no need to rob a bank! When you need money quickly, have you thought of applying for a logbook loan? Securing finance against your vehicle can help you get through these challenging times, and you can still drive your car while repaying the loan.