10 Insane Bank Heists That Actually Worked
It doesn’t take much in the brains department
to stick on a ski mask, and start waving a
But some crooks, take the act of bank robbery
to a whole new level.
And while we’re certainly not suggesting
that you become a thief, it’s hard not to
admire some of the outlandish, cunning, and
downright mad plans that criminals have come
up with over the years.
From devious disguises to slick schemes, here
are 10 Insane Bank Heists That Actually Worked…
10) South Malabar Gramin Bank – 2007
When you base your real life robbery off something
you saw in a movie, chances it’s going to
end up pretty crazy.
After all, cinematic heists tend to involve
dodging lasers, speeding cars, and blowing
up… well, everything.
In December 2007, the robbers rented a ground
floor restaurant in Chelembra, India.
Claiming the restaurant would open in January
2008, they even set out tables and chairs
to make the front more convincing.
But their aim wasn’t wholesome family cooking.
It was cracking into the bank on the floor
On the 30th of December, the gang drilled
through the floor and started grabbing all
they could get their hands on.
They made off with 80 kilograms of gold, as
well as 5 million rupees.
The total value of the stolen goods came to
80 million rupees, or $1.2 million.
The move was inspired by the Bollywood buddy-cop
film Dhoom, which also involves a gang of
criminals digging through the floor of a bank
over New Year’s.
Unbelievable as it seems, plagiarizing an
action movie heist worked out perfectly for
the robbers, though they were eventually tracked
down two months later.
I just hope no-one tries to copy Dhoom 3,
because apparently that means setting yourself
9) Nippon Trust Bank – 1968
The robbers above may have schemed, planned,
and drilled their way into a million dollars.
But this next guy stole even more with just
a costume and a smoke grenade.
In 1968, four employees of the Japanese Nippon
Trust Bank were transporting some money across
Tokyo in a car.
And by “some money”, I mean 300 million
yen, or $3.4 million.
As they drove past the prison, a man in a
Parole Officer’s uniform pulled them over.
He told the group that there was a bomb under
their car, and he needed to take a look.
I’m sure you’ve worked this out, but the
“Parole Officer” was actually a thief.
A thief who, to this day, remains unnamed
The Parole Officer crawled under the car and
set off his smoke grenade, bathing the car
Not desperate to blasted into pieces, the
group panicked, especially when the officer
started yelling “It’s dynamite.
It’s going to blow”.
As the bank staff leapt out of the car, the
thief simply got in and drove away into the
8) The Stopwatch Gang 1970s
While two minutes is barely enough time for
most of us to skim the news or have a quick
go on Tinder, this group could finish a whole
bank robbery in less time.
The Stopwatch Gang were a group of three Canadian
men who terrorised Los Angeles banks throughout
the 70s and 80s.
They successfully committed a stunning 140
robberies, always timing themselves with stopwatches.
Their signature tactic, that they would always
be in and out of the bank in less than 120
seconds, was also the secret to their success.
Leaving so quickly allowed them to escape
before the police arrived, as well as minimising
the risk of leaving evidence behind.
[GRAPHICS: Can I get a fast-forwarded version
of a bank robbery with a little timer in the
corner counting down two minutes?]
It also meant that the gang never had to fire
a shot during any of their heists.
Though there’s no way of knowing how many
millions the gang took from all their heists,
their most famous robbery was stealing a stack
of gold bars worth $750,000 from Ottawa Airport.
Which, kind of raises the question: who flies
with stacks of gold bars on them?
Regardless, the group were eventually captured
after robbing a Bank of America branch.
But considering their 140-robbery long streak,
it’d be hard to say their plan was anything
short of excellent.
7) Societe Generale Bank – 1976
If The Stopwatch Gang brought a little Usain
Bolt speed to the act of bank robbery, these
guys were perfectly happy to take things slow.
After tunnelling into Nice’s Societe Generale
Bank on the Bastille Day bank holiday in 1976,
Albert Spaggiari and his gang did the most
balls-out, Gallic thing imaginable.
They sat around for the entire long weekend,
drinking wine and eating baguettes and cheese.
When they did finally decide to stroll out,
they took 60 million francs.
That’s $259 million in today’s money,
the largest amount ever stolen from a bank
at the time.
As an added insult, the entire crew defecated
in the bank’s collection of ornate bowls
on the way out.
With so much, um evidence, being left behind,
Sparriari was, unsurprisingly, caught.
But his plan was far from over.
On the day of his trial, Albert told the judge
he was hot and asked him to open the window.
When the judge obliged, Spaggiari jumped straight
out of it and got onto motorbike his gang
had left for him.
Spaggiari rode off into the distance forever,
presumably while everyone else stared angrily
at the judge.
6) Loughton Incinerator – 1990s
Did you know the government burns our money?
I mean, we all know the government burns our
[EDIT: Show sideshow of headlines about government
waste/vanity projects over that last sentence]
But I mean they also literally set fire to
The Loughton Incinerator in Essex is where
the Bank of England sets fire to banknotes
that have become too worn down to use.
It’s also where employee Christine Gibson
successfully stole £600,000, or $781,000,
between 1994 and 1998.
How did this one woman, with the help of three
accomplices, steal so much money?
While her accomplices acted as lookouts, Christine
just shoved handfuls of cash down her underwear.
The notes were hidden away in two separate
boxes, one with black keys and one white keys.
Gibson was in charge of the black keys, but
stole and spray-painted a white key black,
giving her access to both boxes of cash.
As simple as the plan sounds, it’s actually
kind of clever.
Since Gibson was the last person to handle
the notes before they were burnt, there was
no chance of anyone noticing the money was
Unfortunately, while Mrs Gibson’s plan was
simple and clever, her husband was just simple.
One day, he wandered into a bank with £100,000
in stolen notes, triggering suspicion and
the pair’s eventual arrest.
5) Chase Bank – 2010
Over the years, Darth Vader has built up quite
a rap sheet for himself.
He’s slashed armies to pieces with a lazer
sword, and murdered whole planets with a moon-sized
So to him, something like armed robbery probably
seems pretty minor.
In July 2010, Darth Vader himself was filmed
robbing a Chase Bank in Long Island, New York.
Okay fine, that might not actually be Darth
But considering the guy was never caught,
we don’t actually know who it was.
On the 20th of July, the armed robber walked
into the bank with a pistol and started demanding
the teller hand over the money.
Despite the gun, the thief had to convince
snickering customers that this was a serious
robbery, and not a joke or viral prank.
Still, Vader had the last laugh.
The simple plan succeeded, and he walked off
with an undisclosed amount of money.
And this New York crook isn’t the first
robber to use the darth disguise.
In March 2015, a man tried to hold up a credit
union in North Carolina in the outfit.
And there are countless stories of store being
help up by the sith lord.
I guess building a Death Star is really is
4) The Crown jewels – 1671
In 1671, Colonel Thomas Blood decided to do
something utterly insane: steal the Crown
Pretending to be a priest, Blood took to walking
around the Tower of London and, over the course
of weeks, befriended a tower guard.
Eventually Blood convinced the guard to let
him and some friends visit the jewels privately.
Once in the Tower, the group tied up the guard
and grabbed the jewels.
But backup arrived, and Blood and company
were brought before King Charles II.
Considering Blood didn’t even get out of
the tower, you might think the plan didn’t
But the scheme was successful in a rather
You see, the King was so impressed by Blood’s
audacity that he pardoned the Colonel.
In fact, the King even rewarded him with lands
in Ireland worth 500 pounds a year.
If that doesn’t sound like a lot, remember
that A) he should have been hung for treason
and B) inflation is a thing.
That same amount in modern money?
And yet when I stole that printer from work,
it was considered a bad thing.
3) Lloyds Bank – 1971
This robbery has everything.
Explosions, M15, conspiracies about the Royal
Family: the works.
In September 1971, a group of thieves rented
a fashion shop called Le Sac.
Because nothing says elegance and high fashion
like the word “Sac”.
From the shopfront, the thieves tunnelled
under the road to the Lloyds bank opposite,
digging only at weekends to minimise the risk
of being overheard.
[EDIT: Footage or graphies depending on availability]
They finally reached the bank floor on September
There they used where they used a thermal
lance, which is basically an awesome cross
between a spear and a flamethrower, and explosives
to break into the vault.
This is where the story gets weird.
You see, the gang were communicating via radio.
And by chance, radio enthusiast Robert Rowlands,
happened to pick up their frequency while
messing around with his device.
He alerted the police, who swept every bank
within a 10 mile radius of Rowland’s receiver.
The 650 banks they searched included the Lloyds
bank where the robbery was taking place.
But since the thieves were in the vault at
the time, the cops never spotted them.
The robbers fled with the modern day equivalent
of $43 million, never to be seen again.
But ever since the robbery, conspiracies have
flown around about how the group were able
to escape justice so easily.
I mean, if the police literally turn up mid-robbery,
you probably deserve to get caught.
Some theorists have even claimed the thieves
were actually an M15 team, sent in to retrieve
embarrassing naked pictures of the Queen’s
sister, Princess Margaret.
But here’s the real mystery, if the whole
thing took place on Baker Street, why didn’t
the police just get Sherlock Holmes to help?
2) Bank of America – 2008
While most people just use Craigslist for
job hunting or casual hookups, Anthony Curcio
had a far more ingenious plan in mind.
In 2008, Curio placed an advert on the website
for landscapers, telling them he would pay
them $28.50 an hour.
Importantly, the advert clearly stated all
employees should show up wearing safety goggles,
respirator masks, and a yellow vest, and that
they should meet outside the Bank of America
At 11AM on September 30th, a dozen landscapers
turned up outside the bank: just in time to
be used as decoys.
You see, Curio was hiding in exactly the same
As an armoured car arrived outside the bank,
Anthony left out, pepper sprayed one of the
guards, and made off past the crowd of decoys
a bag of cash.
He then slid down a snowy hill on an inner
tube, and was picked up by a getaway driver.
This caper netted Curio $400,000, and was
almost the perfect crime.
But, a homeless man discovered a spare outfit
Curio had worn during a dress rehearsal, and
Seattle police managed to recover some DNA
Curio was arrested and sentenced to 6 years
But during his trial the prosecutor and even
the Assistant Attorney General took time to
praise his ingenuity.
Which, you know, probably didn’t make the
whole “being sent to jail” thing any better.
1) Andre Stander DRAFT 187
When the guy who played the Punisher wants
to be in a movie about your life, you must
have been one badass dude.
And Andre Stander was certainly that.
Then he’d go back to his day job… as a
Stander continued this insane double life
for years, often getting tasked with investigating
the very robberies he’d committed.
The plan was always simple.
At lunchtime, Stander would steal a car and
turn up at the bank rocking a wig and fake
He’d then quietly take whatever the teller
had, drive away, and return to work.
This system worked, and between 1977 and 1980
Stander is believed to have hit about 40 banks.
And he’d have gotten away with it too.
Stander’s heists were perfect in their simplicity,
and the police had no idea their college was
a serial bank robber.
But while Andre’s plans were impressive,
his alcohol tolerance wasn’t.
Stander drunkenly confessed to a friend at
a party in 1980, and was arrested when that
friend immediately went to the police.
So there you have it.
It wasn’t a sloppy plan or brilliant detective
work that brought Stander down.
was body shots.