None of them were completely successful
One of the largest cash robberies in American history occurred 11 years ago today. More than $17 million in cash was taken from the vault of a cash handling company. Ironically enough, just a few months earlier, the same company lost almost $19 million in another heist. However, these amounts are really far from the greatest thefts in U.S. history. Let’s find out what they were and how the largest robberies on American soil were committed.
Sentry Armoured Car Company robbery
Date: December 12, 1982
Location: The Bronx, New York
Amount: $11 million
Sentry Armoured Car Company was robbed of $11 million by its guard Christos Potamitis and his associates. Though it was an inside job, the robbers tried to make it look like a standard heist. When his armed associates punched a hole in the wooden roof of the armoured car company’s headquarters, Potamitis let them in and handcuffed himself to make it look like he had been overpowered. The crime was planned for a weekend before millions of dollars in cash receipts would go to the banks on Monday.
It was the biggest cash robbery in U.S. history at that time. Five of the perpetrators were sent to prison, but the authorities managed to recover only $1.5 million of stolen money.
October 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery
Date: October 4, 1997
Location: Maiden, North Carolina
Amount: $17.3 million
1997 was definitely a tough year for Loomis Fargo. This heist was the second that the company had faced in seven months. It was masterminded by its regional vault supervisor David Scott Ghantt. Eventually, eight people convicted for this crime, with as many as sixteen others proven of having indirectly helped them. Ghantt just loaded more than $17.3 million into a branded truck then went on to move the cash to private cars with his associates. After that he crossed the border into Mexico, taking $50,000 with him (the maximum that could be taken without authorization). His associates were to hide the cash until the heat was off. However, the next morning Ghantt was considered to be the prime suspect as he was the only missing employee. He also got caught on cameras.
Further investigation unveiled the connection between the gang and the whole crime scheme. Anyhow, nearly $2 million of stolen cash is still missing to this day.
There is a comedy movie based on these events called “Masterminds”.
March 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery
Date: March 29, 1997
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Amount: $18.8 million
Seven months before the crime described above, Loomis Fargo lost even more cash in a heist performed by its armoured car driver Philip Noel Johnson. He got rid of two of his co-workers leaving them handcuffed in different locations, hid the money and moved to Mexico. In August he tried to move back to the U.S., but due to his suspicious responses to Customs Agents’ questions, he came under the scrutiny of the authorities. He was arrested when agents revealed that he had multiple passports with him. By that time his storage shed was uncovered with approximately $18 million in it.
Dunbar Armoured robbery
Date: September 12, 1997
Location: Los Angeles, California
Amount: $18.9 million
The mastermind of the Dunbar Armoured robbery was its regional safety inspector named Allen Pace. His position allowed him to examine the company’s armoured car depot thoroughly. Pace even managed to determine how security cameras could be avoided. Moreover, he knew when the guards took their lunch breaks and when the vault was left open – it was on Friday nights when large quantities of money were being moved.
On the night of Friday, September 12, 1997, Pace and five of his old friends got inside the facility, avoiding or subduing the guards and slipping through the cameras unnoticed. It took just about half an hour for the robbers to load millions of dollars into their truck, as Allen Pace knew which bags contained the highest denominations. He also took care of the recording devices for the cameras, taking them away.
After that, the robbers started to carefully launder their take, through property deals and phony businesses. The crime was disclosed when one of the thieves gave one of the brokers he dealt with a stack of cash with the original currency straps on it.
Nevertheless, just about $5 million of the money stolen was ever recovered.
United California Bank robbery
Date: March 24, 1972
Location: Laguna Niguel, California
Amount: $30 million
Professional burglars Amil and James Dinsio with their nephews, brother-in-law, and two other associates, who were good at disarming the alarms, pull off the largest heist in U.S. history.
They used dynamite to blast a hole in the roof of the safe deposit vault at United California Bank and looted $30 million in cash and valuables.
They could have probably run away with the cash, but they got greedy and tried to perpetrate a similar heist in Ohio. The investigators linked these two heists and figured out that the gang travelled to California using their real names. Later officials found a townhouse the robbers rented in California to stage their heist. Investigators recovered burglars’ fingerprints when they checked the dishwasher. Eventually, all members of the gang were arrested and most of the loot was recovered.
SEE ALSO: EXPLAINED: How do ATMs work?