5 of the UK’s Largest Heists!
With our new escape game “The Heist” around the corner, we thought we’d take a look at some of the UK’s largest and most famous heists, some of which provided inspiration for our room and others that shocked us.
1. The Great Train Robbery
- Year: 1963
- Location: Ledburn
- Total Haul: £2 595 997 (about £53.4 million today)
- Suspects: 13/17 convicted (for a total of 307 years)
Probably the UK’s most famous heist, the Great Train Robbery was a carefully planned robbery which the gang were very close to getting away with. On the 8th August 1963, a gang of 15 men sale nearly £2.6 million worth of notes from a post office train travelling from Glasgow to London.
Using information from a man known only as “The Ulsterman”, the group set out to rob a travelling post office train which was believed to have as much as £3 million contained in its high-value package carriage. Usually, the train would “only” be carrying around £300 000 in the carriage, bit the previous weekend had been a Bank Holiday which meant there was much more money travelling down to London than usual.
Worth a Watch:
2. The Brinks Mat Robbery
- Year: 1983
- Location: Heathrow Trading Estate
- Total Stolen: £26 Million (about £86 million today)
- Suspects: 2/6 convicted
On 26th November 1983, 20 years after the great train robbery, 6 men broke into the Brinks-Mat warehouse on the Heathrow International trading estate. The group gained entry to the warehouse via a security guard. Once inside the poured petrol over the staff and threatened them with a lit match if the refused to reveal the combination to the vault.
3. Hatton Gardens Heist
The most recent heist on the list the Hatton Gardens heist doesn’t have the largest haul but attracted much attention from the press due to the age of the thieves. The eldest member of the gang, Brian Reader, was 76 when he was arrested for his role in the robbery and the average age of the suspects was 64.
Most of the crew were arrested and sentenced to a total of over 43 years for the robbery. They were also ordered to pay £27.5 million or face extra terms in jail, so far only £732 000 has been repaid. Thankfully no one was harmed during this heist, but sadly the Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Company went into liquidation a few months after the robbery.
4. Securitas Depot Robbery
At the same time, the gang horrifyingly moved to take his wife and 8-year-old son hostage. They used the same tactics and dressed as police officers they knocked on the front door of the house and told them that Mr Dixon had been involved in a car accident. Under the pretence of being taken to the hospital to see their husband/father, they entered the car and transported them to the same farm he was being held at. The manager was told that they’d “blow a hole” in one of them if he failed to cooperate.
The thieves rounded up the hostages and locked them in metal cages before fleeing the scene. The hostages managed to escape when the manager’s 8-year-old son was able to squeeze between the bars and retrieve the key for the cages from another staff member.
Returning the Kent farm, the gang counted up and divided the money before going their separate ways. Over 36 people have been arrested in connection with the heist. 2 of the ring leaders were caught after one accidentally recorded plans for the heist on his phone.
Worth a Read:
5. Baker Street Robbery
- Year: 1971
- Location: Baker Street, London
- Stolen: £3 Million (£41.7 million today)
- Suspects: 1 Conviction
A street better known for a detective than for criminals played host to a theft from Lloyd’s Bank. On September 11 1971, £3 Million was stolen from the vault of the bank. The crew rented a leather goods store 2 doors down where they tunnelled 50 feet to the bank, passing under the Chicken Inn restaurant in between. To avoid being overheard they dug on weekends, and once through to the vault use explosives to gain entry.
The robbers were overheard communication by an amateur radio enthusiast, who notified the police. The police used the information to check the 750 banks within 10 miles of the enthusiast’s receiver and even searched the Lloyds bank in Baker Street whilst the gang were inside emptying over 260 safety deposit boxes. Fortunately for the thieves, the police believed the bank was secure as the security doors were still locked, so left the bank whilst the robbery continued undetected.
This robbery is particularly interesting for its links to other crimes and the conspiracy theories surrounding it. The leader of the Hatton Gardens heist (see above) Brian Reader was believed to have been behind the heist in Baker Street too, with them both having a very similar MO. Reader was also linked to the Brink’s Mat robbery after he was convicted for handling stolen goods from the heist in 1986.
The conspiracy surrounding the Baker Street robbery is that the crime was in fact planned by MI5 to recover some compromising photographs of Princess Margaret. Supporters of the theory believe that the press were told not to report on the robbery by the government and believe that the fact the bank wasn’t searched properly was due to the orders from high up.
Worth a Watch: