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The UK’s most Lucrative Robberies

Crime doesn't pay, as the saying goes but the perpetrators of the UK’s most lucrative robberies obviously thought that it did as they netted millions of pounds in various heists.

Although the long arm of the law caught up with them in the end, the grand scale of the robberies emphasises the need for increased security at your home and business premises to deter would-be criminals.

Read on to find out the circumstances of the UK's most lucrative robberies!


Tonbridge Securitas depot

The biggest ever heist to date occurred on 21st February 2006, when robbers targeted the Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent. Making off with £53.1 million, criminals dressed as policemen kidnapped the depot manager, Colin Dixon, after pulling him over on a fake speeding charge.

At the same time, more gang members kidnapped his wife Lynn and young son, aged eight. The gang had tied up 14 staff members at the depot - which handled the Bank of England's cash - and in the early hours of the morning, they took the Dixon family there at gunpoint.

They threatened to start shooting people if Mr Dixon didn't co-operate and hand over the money. The gang then fled with the cash.

It was almost two years before several gang members were convicted at the Old Bailey in January 2008. A jury found five gang members guilty of armed robbery. Detectives said the gang had made basic mistakes which led to their eventual capture and long jail terms, such as leaving traces of DNA on their masks


Graff Jewellers, London

Smartly dressed in suits and posing as customers, audacious armed raiders stole £40 million worth of jewellery from Graff Jewellers in London, on 6th August 2009. Armed with handguns, they walked into the exclusive New Bond Street shop and left with 43 items of stolen jewellery, many of which were diamonds.

The robbers employed a professional make-up artist, who took four hours to completely change their features using latex prosthetics and wigs - they booked the make-up artist's services by lying that they were making a music video. Arriving by taxi at the store, they pulled out guns when staff allowed them access. They didn't have to hide their faces from the CCTV due to their disguises.

One sales assistant was held hostage during the robbery. She was threatened with being shot if she didn't carry out the robbers' demands, as she was forced to empty the jewellery display cabinets. The thieves made their escape in a BMW car.


Their freedom was short-lived. Four men were convicted by a jury of the diamond heist in July 2010, including the two men who had carried out the robbery and two other gang members.

The jury heard how the heist had needed meticulous planning, including hiring several vehicles that were strategically placed around London to prevent the police from following the getaway car. However, it began to go wrong when the robbers' BMW collided with a taxi as they drove away from the scene.

As they hurried to get to their second car, one of them dropped his mobile phone, which police later found wedged down the side of the driver's seat. Numbers stored on the phone eventually enabled detectives to track down the gang members and they were later jailed.


Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre, London

The infamous robbery of Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre in Cheval Place saw armed raiders flee with a £40 million haul. Two men posing as potential customers entered the deposit centre on 12th July 1987 and made their way to the vault, where they produced handguns and threatened the manager and security staff.

After hanging an official-looking sign on the door saying the centre was temporarily closed, they let in the other gang members and broke open many safe deposit boxes, using metal-cutting equipment. After netting items valued at £40 million, they made their getaway.

The criminal mastermind behind the heist was lawyer's son Valerio Viccei, who was wanted in connection with 50 armed robberies in his native Italy. He managed to flee the country after the Knightsbridge raid, although his involvement was known to police, thanks to a fingerprint he left at the scene. He made the mistake of returning to Britain to arrange shipment of his Ferrari Testarossa supercar to South America.

He was arrested and spent 10 years in Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight, before being deported back to Italy to serve the remainder of a 22-year jail term.


World's biggest bank robbery

Netted by a gang who raided the Banco Central in Fortaleza, Brazil, between August 6th and 7th, 2005, the largest sum of money in the world ever stolen from a bank was £38.6 million. The plot began when the gang set up a fake gardening company in a building two blocks away.

They then dug a 256ft-long tunnel that passed under the city centre, before cutting through steel-reinforced concrete, 1.1 metres deep, to access the bank vault through the floor over the weekend. They escaped with five containers of notes that weighed 3.5 tonnes - it was recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest bank robbery ever.

Despite having more than 100 suspects, the police have arrested very few and the majority of the suspects remain fugitives. The police have reportedly recovered £14 million so far. However, it has been suggested that the robbers left some money on purpose, to give them more time to escape with the rest.

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