Over the years, authors and Hollywood alike have romanticised the iconic heist. From the Great Train Robbery to The Italian Job, we all have witnessed the rush, ambition and grand prize from some of the world’s most renowned characters.
Truth be told, even the most prolific robbers end up behind bars in the end. Their time was up the moment they entered the vault or caught the attention of a passerby. Needless to say, there are a lot of impressive factors that go into planning the perfect heist: problem-solving, thinking outside of the box, and pure luck.
Let’s open some of the case files together and take a look at our top 5 favourite heists of all time:
The Crown Jewels robbery
Disguise, sceptres and an old rogue, the Crown Jewels robbery is hands down one of the most thrilling heists ever. The year was 1671 when Anglo-Irish adventurer Colonel Thomas Blood made his move to take the Crown Jewels.
Blood’s attempt involved him integrating himself with the Tower of London’s Master of the Jewel House while disguised as a parson. On his arm, he led a prostitute posing as his wife to add an air of authenticity to his plan.
After forming a friendship with the Master, Blood convinced him to allow three of Blood’s guests into the vault. Blood would then club and bound the trusting Master before flattening St Edward’s Crown with a mallet, sawing the royal sceptre in half and slyly hiding the Royal Orb amongst his breeches.
Like all good heists, the greatest cost was to be spent when Blood and his gang were apprehended moments after shooting a guard, dropping the sceptre and the crown falling to the floor.
Despite the chaos and being brought before King Charles II in chains, Blood was pardoned. Not all was lost, as the King went on to award Blood land in his native Ireland as penance.
The life and times of Butch Cassidy
Butch Cassidy, to this day, has left an echo throughout the course of history. Famed for his many exploits over the years, Cassidy’s Wilcox Train Robbery has become one of the West’s most famous robberies of all time.
The year was 1899. The Union Pacific train was well established. And Cassidy and his troublesome “Hole in the Wall Gang” were out to strike gold. To make his ambush work, two “signalmen” grounded the train to a halt in the middle of Wyoming. Using dynamite, the gang caused devastation to the railcar holding the strongbox, as well as the tracks themselves.
With the well-placed dynamite and a fresh band of horses, the gang escaped carrying about $50,000. In today’s money, they got away with $7 million (£5.6 million). For decades after, banknotes still appeared from New York to New Mexico, holding the distinctive burnt-off corner mark.
The Parisian bank vault tunnelers
Mystery still surrounds the sophisticated, tunnelling heist that would plague a select group of Parisian bank vaults. Using well-sourced tools that went undetected during an elaborate scheme to rob over 100 safety deposit boxes, the robbers escaped and have never been found to this day.
Coincidentally, or perhaps not, 100 similar boxes had disappeared from a bank in the city’s northern region months before. Only time will tell if the elusive tunnelers will be back for more!
The Millenium Star
The year 2000 brought with it many topical conversations. From the widespread fear of the “Millenium Bug” invading cyberspace to London’s controversially expensive Millenium Dome, it was a prime year for jumping on the heist bandwagon.
Nestled in the heart of the Millennium Dome lay the well sought after crown jewel, the “Millennium Star”. The gem received a lot of media coverage. Therefore, it was no surprise that the priceless jewel drew a band of robbers’ attention.
Straight out of a James Bond film, the robbers had planned an explosive, guns a blazing getaway plan which landed them on a speedboat with the jewel in hand. The band of merry thieves were arrested on-site, and their glamorised escape was foiled.
The Hatton Garden Jewellery Affair
Named as one of the “most audacious heists in living memory,” the Hatton Garden jewellery robbery is a tale full of intrigue and logic fuelled antics.
Led by the mastermind Brian Reader, a band of career thieves who had a long history of London based heists set an elaborate plan into action. The scheme involved an elevator shaft to get close to an underground strong room. Drilling through concrete and entering a secure vault undetected.
Reader and the “Old Blaggers” gang swindled £200 million worth of stolen stones. Although the robbers have been apprehended and imprisoned, very little of their haul has yet to be recovered.
Want to know why we love a well thought out heist? Because it inspires problem-solving like no other and taking yourself to a place beyond typical thinking.
Everyone loves a good story full of adventure, intrigue and suspense. Ready to crack the case and score a heist of a lifetime? Get in touch today to see which Escape Room you can unlock next.