Photo of the Day

A newsman wears a rubber mask similar to that worn by bandits who robbed Brink’s armored car firm in Boston Jan, 1950. The reporter points to nameplate on first of six locked doors opened by the gunmen. The Mask was one of several purchased in joke shops by newsmen and police to see if they resembled description given by Brink’s employees. PHOTO: AP Photo

The Great Brinks Robbery

They?left few clues. It was almost the perfect crime. Almost?

For a long time, the armed heist known as the Brink?s Holdup was the most successful robbery in United States history. It took place in Boston?s North End on 165 Prince Street at the headquarters of Brink?s Incorporated on January 17, 1950. The job was meticulously planned and brilliantly executed, and the thieves made off with over $2 million. The robbers were local heroes; Boston for some reason has a longstanding love affair with bank robberies.

Tony Pino, a lifelong criminal, was the mastermind behind the audacious theft. Together with Joe McGinnis, he assembled a group that meticulously planned the heist. They staked out the depot for a year and a half to figure out when it was holding the most money. Then, the gang stole the plans for the depot?s alarm system and returned them before anyone noticed that they were missing.

The criminal team held repeated rehearsals, with each man wearing blue coats and Halloween masks. On January 17, they finally put their plan into action. Inside the counting room, the gang surprised the guards and tied up the employees. Multiple canvas bags, weighing more than half a ton, were filled with cash, coins, checks, and money orders. Within 30 minutes, the Brinks robbery team was gone?taking $2.7 million with them.

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Photo of the Day

Brian Wells heads out of the PNC Bank in the Summit Towne Centre after robbing it of $8,702. Wells is carrying the cash in a white canvas bag; in his left hand is a homemade cane-shaped shotgun. He is sucking on a lollipop he grabbed while in the bank. The collar bomb is protruding from under his white T-shirt. He had demanded $250,000 from the chief teller but left with whatever money she could give him. ERIE TIMES-NEWS, via FBI

The Twists and Turns of the Collar-Bombing Case

He sat on the road with his legs twisted under him and his hands cuffed behind his back. His oversized glasses drooped as he cried for help.

Brian Wells, a pizza deliveryman, was caught in a bizarre bank robbery. He had walked in with a bomb strapped to his neck, and now no one wanted to help him. No one knew what was going on or seemed to understand how a simpleton got involved in such a vicious plot.

Except for Wells. He knew he had been double-crossed.

Brian Wells delivered pizzas for a living. He was a quiet, unassuming man, one of the most trusted drivers for Mama Mia Pizzeria in Erie, Pa. But on Aug. 28, 2003, he walked into an Erie bank and handed the teller a holdup note.

This was no garden-variety stickup. When police caught Wells in a nearby parking lot, he began to beg for his life.

They grab him and they handcuff him and throw him onto the ground,

Mr Wells starts pleading with them, “He says, ‘Listen, there’s a bomb strapped to my neck. I was forced to wear it at gunpoint. It’s going to explode, I’m not lying to you.'”

Wells said a group of men accosted him and forced him to carry out the heist. After delivering the money, he would receive clues to help him disarm the bomb.

Wells wasn’t lying. A few seconds later, the bomb went off, killing him almost instantly.

It was one of the most diabolical bank robbery schemes in history, known by the FBI as COLLARBOMB, Major Case #203.

It did not go according to plan.

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Photo Of The Day

Albert Spaggiari.Brain "case of the century" took place at the Soci?t? g?n?rale de Nice in 1976, Albert Spaggiari (third from the left in the photo) is heard by the judge, March 10, 1977, when profits an open window to jump into the street and join a motorcycle accomplice. Photo: (AFP PHOTO)

Albert Spaggiari. Brain “case of the century” took place at the Soci?t? g?n?rale de Nice in 1976, Albert Spaggiari (third from the left in the photo) is heard by the judge, March 10, 1977, when profits an open window to jump into the street and join a motorcycle accomplice. Photo: (AFP PHOTO)

The Sewer Gang

In?July 1976, the Soci?t? G?n?rale, a bank in Nice, was robbed. It was later dubbed ?The Bank Robbery of the Century?, or ?Le Casse du Sie?cle?. This was a special case, not only because of the amount stolen (they made off with 50 million francs, or about 76996720.45 New Zealand Dollars), but also because of the way it was carried out.

A group of about 15 men dug a tunnel 8 metres (26 feet) long from the sewers of Nice to the bank vault. Their underground escapades earned them the nickname ?The Sewer Gang?. To help identify the exact location of the vault, one of them rented a safety-deposit box and placed an alarm clock inside which was set to go off in the middle of the night. This helped them to pinpoint the exact location and served as a test to make sure the bank didn?t have an alarm that picked up on sound or vibration. This was very important, since they had the intention of smashing through a 1.80 metres (6 foot) thick concrete wall and would probably be making some noise and causing a bit of vibration.

On the morning of Monday 19 July 1976 two employees of the Soci?t? G?n?rale?s Nice branch trotted down the stairs to the steel door of the bank?s underground vault. The pair of keys required to open the vault door had to be turned simultaneously in locks too far apart to be operated by the same man. Soci?t? G?n?rale prided itself on its security measures.

Each man inserted his key in the lock and turned it, expecting the door to swing open. Nothing happened. They tried again. Same result. It would be three and a half hours before anyone discovered the vault door had been sealed shut from the inside with a welding arc.

At 09.00, half an hour after the first key failure, deputy manager Pierre Bigou sent for locksmiths. They arrived at 9.15 sweating lightly from the morning heat. It was going to be a warm day in Nice. Temperatures in the coastal resort regularly hit thirty degrees during the summer and today looked likely to top that. Holiday makers were already staking out plots on the beach.

The locksmiths took fifteen minutes to announce they could not open the door. They examined the bank blueprints and marked a neat X at the point where the vault wall was thinnest. They would have to drill a hole through the concrete to get inside. The bank manager Jacques Guenet took some convincing but customers had already begun to arrive in the bank to use their safety deposit boxes in the vault. One of his colleagues was fielding questions at the top of the stairs and trying to corral customers back into the main hall.

Nothing to worry about monsieur. A minor technical problem madame. Your valuables are quite safe but there may be a slight delay.

With the pressure building Guenet agreed to the locksmiths’ plan.

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