Throughout history, there are bank robberies that will be remembered because of how extraordinarily brilliant they were. Criminals like Bonnie and Clyde inspired filmmakers to immortalise their escapades on the silver screen.
These were the heists that made us think “Could I get away with it?” Here are some that will make you sit up in admiration.
1. Detective robbed banks on his lunch breaks
And returned to investigate them later! What a brilliant man. Andre Stander, head of the Criminal Investigation Department in Kempton, South Africa would disguise himself as a robber and pull off a heist during his lunch breaks. His robbed 30 banks before he drunkenly tried to recruit a partner who handed him over to the police.
2. Khalistan Commando Force leader masterminded India’s largest robbers
Labh Singh masterminded India’s largest bank robbery where he netted almost Rs 5.7 crore from the Millar Ganj branch of Punjab National Bank, in Ludhiana. A part of the money that Singh stole belonged to the Reserve Bank of India. The loot was used by KCF to purchase weapons. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that “12 to 15 Sikhs dressed as policemen and armed with submachine guns and rifles escaped with nearly $4.5 million in the biggest bank robbery in Indian history.”
3. Robbers rented a house to dig a tunnel into the bank and robbed $65 million
A band of thieves rented a house in Brazil and pretended to be employed with an artificial turf company. They rented a house and dug a 656 foot tunnel from their house to Banco Central. They looted the bank over the weekend and the robbery was discovered only on Monday morning. The neighbours reported seeing the “employees” taking away vans full of material every day.
4. Robbers rented a restaurant to rob the bank on the second floor
This robbery was inspired from the Bollywood flick, Dhoom. The thieves pretended to own a restaurant to rob a bank on the floor above them. In 2008 on New Year’s Day, the staff of the South Malabar Grameen Bank in Chelembra, India came in to discover their floor had been carved open from below. The looters had fled with around Rs 2.5 million and Rs 75 million in cash and gold, respectively. They were caught two months later after the police tracked their mobiles. Most of their loot was recovered.
5. Robbers dodged and escaped 200 police officers after a seven-hour standoff
While robbing a bank in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a band of thieves engaged 200 police officers in a seven-hour-long hostage standoff. The robbers traded a few hostages for pizza, all the while loading 140 safe deposit boxes through a hole they dug out in the basement. The tunnel led them to a boat on the La Plata River through which the escaped.
6. The stopwatch gang that robbed banks in two minutes or less
Known as The Stopwatch Gang, Stephen Reid, Patrick Mitchell, and Lionel Wright looted one bank after the other in California during the 1970s and 1980s. They would wear presidential Halloween masks and rob a bank in under two minutes. One of them always wore a stopwatch around his neck to keep them on track. They got $15 million richer from their robberies before being caught in the 1980s.
7. Thieves robbed a bank but bragged about it on social media
We would call this couple ‘genius’ not for how they robbed a bank but what they did after. Josh Morgan and Ashley Duboe were charged with looting the Savings Bank in Asheville, Ohio. Morgan wore a black hoodie to cover his facial tattoos to avoid identification. The teller handed him the money and he walked out of the bank a richer person. However, the couple bragged about their robbery on Facebook which alerted the police and led to their arrest.
8. Man impersonated Santa Claus, looted a bank and disappeared
Just what the real Santa Claus would do minus the robbery. Taking advantage of an annual Santa Con pub crawl, one man pulled off the perfect crime. As the Santas drunk themselves into oblivion, the robber walked inside a bank on Sutter Street and passed the teller a note. The teller handed the thief cash with which he vanished into thin air, never to be found.
representative image/getty images
9. Robbers dug a tunnel to rob a bank, emptied 86 lockers
In 2014, a gang of robbers – a pathology lab owner, a property dealer and two farmers dug a 125-feet long and 2.5 feet wide tunnel to rob Punjab National Bank’s Gohana branch in Haryana’s Sonipat. They dug for 40 days and spent six hours on breaking open the lockers to pull off the heist. The police arrested three thieves while the fourth one committed suicide.
10. Guards robbed the bank they were hired to protect
The guards hired to protect the Dar Es Salaam Bank in Baghdad – which held millions in assets from around the world – looted the treasury and disappeared with $282 million. The guards usually slept overnight inside the bank. How they looted the bank, though, remains shrouded in mystery, but they were arrested.
11. The “Friday Night Robber” who robbed 45 banks but was convicted of only five
Carl Gugasian’s robberies targeted banks in small towns with an easy highway escape route and late closing times. He robbed only on Friday nights, hence the title “Friday Night Robber”. After each robbery, he would hide the money he stole and any evidence against him. When things cooled down, he would come back to retrieve it. He was caught when one of his hidden caches was found by two teenage boys. But Gugasian was only convicted of five robberies instead of the 45 he committed in total.
Inspired? Please don’t be. But there is no harm in admiring the sheer dedication with which these robbers pulled off their history-making heists.
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