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Top 5 UK
Heists

We take a look at the incredible, the inconceivable, the unimaginable; the world of heists and robberies. From well thought-out plans to lucky escapes, we delve into the very best. Click below to explore in full criminal investigatory fashion

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Below is 5 of Britain’s biggest robberies and burglaries. They are ranked by the value of the goods stolen at the time of the crime, rather than being adjusted for inflation. Click on the crime to view the timeline to find out how much was stolen.

5 BRINK’S - MAT ROBBERY
4 NORTHERN BANK ROBBERY
3 KNIGHTSBRIDGE ROBBERY
2 GRAFF JEWELLER'S ROBBERY
1 SECURITAS DEPOT ROBBERY

Brinks DEPOT ROBBERY

The Kidnapping of Mr Dixon
Outline 06:30 08:15 08:30 28/11/1983

Brink’s-Mat
robbery

It’s an early winter morning on the 26th November 1983, and six robbers are about to break into the Brink’s-Mat Warehouse, Unit 7 of the Heathrow International Trading Estate near Heathrow Airport, west London. The robbers intended to steal £3.6m in cash, but what they found was far more valuable.

The hold up

Six robbers broke into the Brinks-Mat warehouse, by overwhelming security guard Anthony Black. Once inside they poured petrol over staff and threatened them with a match if they did not reveal the combination numbers of the vault.

Brinks Mat Warehouse
Big haul

With the help of Antony Blacks information they were able to disarm a vast array of electronic security systems and in nearly 2 hours they had finally stocked up their vans with the cases of gold and left the Brinks Mat warehouse.

The robbers thought they were going to steal £3.2 million in cash, however, they actually stole £26 million worth of gold, diamonds and cash meaning they had to send several members of the gang to seek sturdier transport.

The alarm

The alarm was raised by one of the guards.

Something is not right

Two days later a couple saw a white-hot crucible operating in a garden hut at a neighbour’s property near Bath. When the police were contacted and arrived but they said it was just beyond their area and would pass information onto the police department responsible for that area. However a follow up was never done.

The so-called “Curse of Brink’s-Mat” has led to the early deaths of those allegedly involved. Five men who were connected with the robbery were all shot dead between 1990-2015.

With the amount of gold that was stolen and melted down, claims have been made that anyone wearing gold jewellery bought in the UK after 1983, is probably wearing Brinks Mat.

The total haul

Amount retrieved
0
Total convictions
4
Further Reading
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northern DEPOT ROBBERY

The Kidnapping of Mr Dixon
Outline 22:00 23:30 06:30 12:00 18:00 19:00 - 20:00 23:45

NORTHERN BANK
ROBBERY

It’s just before bedtime on Sunday 20th December 2004 and a group of armed men posing as policemen arrive at the homes of two Northern Bank officials in Poleglass and Downpatrick. What comes next is a meticulously executed and highly manipulative plan.

Kidnapping Mr Ward

Chris Ward is removed from his house in Poleglass by 3 armed robbers dressed as police officers. The rest of his family including mother, father, brother, and girlfriend are held hostage in the house. Mr Ward is taken in a red car to the home of his supervisor Kevin Mchullan, who he finds has already been taken hostage.

Mrs McMullan taken hostage

Mrs McMullan is taken away from the house to an undisclosed location where she is held and blindfolded at gun point for more than 24 hours.

Leaving the instructions

The masked men leave the house in Downpatrick, leaving the bank officials with instructions about what they must do.

Everything as normal

Mr McMullan and Mr Ward go into work and carry out their normal duties. They work in the cash centre in the basement of the bank, in Donegall Square, Wellington Street.

Northern Bank

The test

One of the workers leaves the bank carrying a holdall containing about £1m. He goes around the corner into Upper Queen Street where he hands the bag to another man. Police believe this was a trial run for the robbery that happened later.

The worker leaving the bank

The heist

McMullan and Ward remain at work after the close of the business, and they give entry to members of the gang, who begin to package the money for collection. The van and other vehicles make collections from the Wellington Street entrance of the bank.

The storage facility would never usually handle that much cash but as it was so close to Christmas, it was being held in preparation to be distributed to automated teller machines.

Police informed

Police and senior officials at the bank are alerted to the raid. Sam Kinkaid, head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Crime Operations branch, is briefed and immediately signals the start of the hunt for the gang involved.

On January 7 2005 Northern Bank announced it would be recalling all of its banknotes and reissuing them in different colours and styles with a brand new logo on. The reissue began March 14 and took up-to one month.

The total haul

Amount retrieved
£2,114,000
Total convictions
1
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Knightsbridge Robbery

ENTERING THE BANK
Outline 15:30 15:45 18:00

KNIGHTSBRIDGE
ROBBERY

It’s Sunday the 12th July 1987 and the Knightsbridge Security Deposit Centre is open by appointment only. By absolutely no coincidence a man on the inside has arranged an appointment with one of Italy’s most notorious bank robbers.

Entering the bank

Two men entered the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre and requested to rent a safe deposit box. After being shown the vault they produced handguns and subdue the manager and security guard. One of these men was Valerio Viccei. It would later be found that manager, Parvez Latif, was the inside man.

Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre

Valerio Viccei was often seen in prestigious nightclubs and, one night, met the man who managed the vaults at the Knightsbridge Deposit Centre, Parvez Latif. He knew then that he was the key to his great robbery. Latif opened up about how his wage was dropping due to a decline in people renting deposit boxes and was easily persuaded by Viccei to help with the robbery for a 50% split in the haul.

Valerio Viccei was notorious for having a criminal outlaw attitude, often saying, “I’ll live by the gun and I'll die by the gun”. He had a lively personality thrived on wealth and greed. After carrying out 24 robberies in Italy he moved over to England to carry on his life of crime.

The raid

After letting in further accomplices, Viccei and his team broke apart 120 safe deposit boxes. To prevent any unwanted guests, closed signs and barriers were put up outside as a deterrent.

Safety deposit boxes after the robbery

Valerio Viccei hired 4 accomplices to help with the robbery. Despite them being inexperienced for the job at hand, Viccei often targeted these people, knowing they wouldn’t want a big share of the goods. Some even believed they would be killed if they didn’t follow his orders.

Raising the alarm

One hour after the raid, the police were alerted and the investigation started. With security footage non existent due to Parvez Latif shutting down the CCTV, the forensic investigators had to look for physical evidence. They recovered a bloody fingerprint that was traced to Valerio Viccei.

All together 121 boxes were broken into, however a large amount of boxes had to be open in a short time frame. Viccei became careless and cut his finger while breaking into one of the boxes, leaving a bloody fingerprint on the inside.

The total haul

Amount retrieved
0
Total convictions
6
Further Reading
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GRAFF’S JEWELLERS ROBBERY

The Kidnapping of Mr Dixon
Outline 16:40 16:50 17:05 17:15 17:17

GRAFF’S JEWELLERS
ROBBERY

On 6th August 2009 Graff’s Jewellers on New Bond Street, London was host to the largest jewel robbery in UK history. What makes this robbery so special is that, even 5 years after the robbery none of the stolen jewels had been recovered.

Entering the jewellers

Two sharply dressed men arrived at the Graff Diamonds jewellery store by taxi and once inside produced two handguns which they used to threaten staff.

The men entering the store

Thanks to their prosthetic makeup they were unrecognisable. Aman Kassaye commented: “My own mother wouldn’t recognise me now,” to which his accomplice replied “That’s got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?”

Taking the goods

The two men have forced staff to empty their cabinets, taking a total of 43 rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches.

Making a break

The robbers offloaded the haul onto motorcyclists awaiting the stolen jewellery. After 25 minutes the two men then began their getaway in a blue BMW.

The loot was given to the motorcyclists.

A sample of the stolen jewellery.

The switcheroo

The vehicle was abandoned in nearby Dover Street, while the robbers switched to a second vehicle, a silver Mercedes.

The disappearing act

The silver Mercedes was then abandoned and the whereabouts of its location were not known.

One vital piece of evidence was found in the first getaway car; a pay-as-you-go mobile. This was found wedged between the driver's seat and the handbrake.

The total haul

Amount retrieved
0
Total convictions
5
Further Reading
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SECURITAS DEPOT ROBBERY

The Kidnapping of Mr Dixon
Outline 18:30 18:30 18:30 - 00:30 00:30 01:00 01:00 - 02:15 02:15

SECURITAS
DEPOT ROBBERY

On Tuesday 21st February 2006 Colin Dixon was driving home from his managerial job at the Securitas Depot in Tonbridge, Kent. Little did he know he would later be used in a robbery plot that would become the most prolific UK robbery in history.

The kidnapping of Mr Dixon

Two gang members, posing as police officers in an unmarked car persuade the Securitas cash depot manager Colin Dixon to pull over in his car at a lay-by close to the Three Squirrels pub on the A249 near Stockbury. One man spoke to Mr Dixon and convinces him to get into their Volvo car, where he is handcuffed.

As Mr Dixon sat handcuffed in the back of the car the man disguised as a police man was believed to have said:

“You'll guess we're not policemen. Don't do anything silly and nobody will be hurt. We are not f**king about - this is a 9mm.”

Hostages are taken

Two other gang members, also posing as police, go to Mr Dixon's home in Herne Bay and tell his wife and eight-year-old son he has been involved in an accident.

Biding time

Mr Dixon is driven west on the M20 motorway to the West Malling bypass, where he is bound further, transferred into a white van and driven around for 6 hours. After this, Mr Dixon is transported to a farm in Staplehurst, Kent.

The deal at elderden farm

Mrs Dixon and her son are taking to Elderden farm where they are joined by Mr Dixon and his captors. Mr Dixon is tied up at gunpoint and told he and his family will be killed if he does not co-operate.

Securitas cash depot

Mr and Mrs Dixon and their son are taken to the cash depot in Tonbridge. Mr Dixon is forced to let one of the gang into the premises. The robber forces a member of staff at gunpoint to open a gate, allowing the other members of the gang to enter in a number of vehicles.

Cashing out

At least six men, some wearing masks or balaclavas and armed with handguns, threaten and tie up 14 members of staff, the manager and his wife and son. After loading the money - new and used banknotes - into a 7.5 tonne white Renault truck, the gang drive away from the depot.

Raising the alarm

Staff at the depot, who were shocked but uninjured, manage to activate an alarm to alert the police. Mr Dixon, his wife and their son escaped unhurt with Mr Dixon's son wriggling through bars to escape.

The total haul

Amount retrieved
£20,734,480
Total convictions
6
Further Reading
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Case Closed
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