Over the years, many criminals have tried their luck at pulling off the ultimate heist, hitting the headlines for their audacity, even if they were unsuccessful in their bid to steal highly valuable items.
Everyone must have seen the legendary movie, The Italian Job, in which a gang of criminals assemble in an effort to steal $35 million worth of gold bars, leading to the famous chase scene in Mini cars. Yet in real life, many heists have been even more daring than the film versions.
From trying to force their way into London's Millennium Dome in a giant digger, to posing as airline officials and hijacking an armoured truck, thieves have tried everything to get their hands on items worth millions.
Read on to find out the extreme lengths some people will go to in their bid to pull off the ultimate heist.
© Andrey Burmakin / Adobe Stock
Millennium Dome, London
In 2000, thieves tried to carry out what would have been the biggest heist in the history of the world, when they attempted to rob London's Millennium Dome. Police intelligence led to Dome bosses being tipped off that they may be at risk in November 2000, so undercover and armed officers were strategically placed around the building.
On 7th November, four would-be robbers tried to steal the De Beers diamonds, valued at more than £350 million, from a display by using a digger to ram down fences and gain access to the site. Among the jewels on display was the 203-carat De Beers Millennium Star.
The Metropolitan Police had replaced the diamonds with replicas, using the code name Operation Magician. Police officers posed as cleaners to await the gang, who had planned to make their getaway on a speedboat down the Thames after the audacious heist.
After crashing into the Dome in a bulldozer, the gang set off smoke bombs and donned gas masks while they tried to sledgehammer their way into the display of diamonds. Police seized the speedboat and four suspects were later jailed for between five and 18 years.
Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
In February 2005, a gang wearing uniforms stolen from Dutch airline KLM carried out a massive heist at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, driving a stolen KLM van. They hijacked an armoured truck containing diamonds worth an estimated $118 million. The diamonds were due to be loaded on to a plane heading for Belgium.
Some of the diamonds were found in a getaway car after the robbery, but $43 million worth of gems are still missing. Investigations were closed around one year after the robbery due to a lack of clues and evidence.
The case was reopened after detectives received new information and in January 2017, seven people, all of them Dutch, were arrested in connection with the heist. In January 2019, four men were jailed for up to seven years for their part in the crime.
Harry Winston Store, Paris
A double-heist which targeted a Paris jewellery store netted robbers more than $100 million worth of jewellery. In October 2007, four robbers posing as builders entered the Harry Winston Store on Avenue Montaigne and threatened employees, making off with jewellery valued at $35 million.
Then, in December 2008, four gun-wielding male robbers, disguised as women, entered the store and demanded diamonds and other jewellery. They addressed the staff by name and made off with a haul of $79 million worth of jewellery.
Some of the jewels, with a total value of $25 million, were found hidden in a sewer under Paris in 2011. Other items have never been recovered.
In February 2015, eight men were jailed in connection with the double heist, for a total of between nine months and 15 years. At the trial, it was revealed the store's security guard Mouloud Djennad had provided insider information to the gang so that they could carry out the robberies.
Please call us for free on 0800 999 2443 for further details of our extensive range of products and services.