Sometimes Safes are not so Safe
Safes hold secrets, and people are curious. People with enough curiosity will do almost anything to get inside them; and they have. And I'm not talking only about bandana wearing robbers back in the wild wild west. Those six-gun totin' bad guys may have laid a proud history and foundation of thievery, but they weren't much compared to the modern day bad guy. Oh no, nowadays you don't just walk into any ol' bank, set some explosives off and ride off to infamy. Modern technology makes safes more secure than ever, but the potential haul is apparently pretty motivating for some. Let's take a look at a couple of bank notorious that have occurred in recent history.
The Dunbar Armored robbery is the largest cash robbery to have occurred in the United States. It happened in 1997 at the Dunbar Armored facility in Los Angeles, California. The robbers made off with $18.9 million. No matter how secure the safes were, the inside nature of this robbery almost insured success.
Allen Pace, who worked for Dunbar as a regional safety inspector, masterminded the robbery. While on the job, Pace had time to photograph and examine the company's Los Angeles armored car depot. He recruited five of his childhood friends, and on the night of Friday, September 12, 1997, Pace used his keys to gain admittance to the facility. Pace had timed the security cameras and determined how they could be avoided. Once inside, they waited within the staff cafeteria, ambushing the guards one by one. Pace knew that on Friday nights the safes were open due to the large quantities of money being moved. Rushing the vault guards, the robbers managed to subdue them before they could signal any alarms. In half an hour, the robbers had loaded millions of dollars into a waiting U-Haul. Pace knew exactly which bags contained the highest denomination and non-sequential bills. He also knew where the recording devices for the security cameras were located and took these.
The police immediately realized it was an inside job and closely examined Pace, but could find nothing. The gang worked hard to conceal their new wealth, laundering it through property deals and phony businesses. Eventually, one of the gang members, Eugene Lamar Hill, erred when he gave an unknowing associate a stack of bills still wrapped with the original cash straps. The associate went to the police, leading to the arrest of Hill, who soon confessed and named his associates. Allen Pace was arrested and sentenced to twenty-four years in prison. Only a fraction of the money was ever recovered. Almost $10 million is still unaccounted for; no doubt hidden away in safes around the world.
The largest bank robbery in history was on the Central Bank of Iraq. In March 2003, the day before the United States started bombing Baghdad, nearly $1 billion was stolen. This is considered the largest bank heist in history. Nearly $650 million was later found by US troops, hidden in the walls of one of Saddam Hussein's palace. The remaining money is currently unaccounted for. Obviously, safes like the ones used in the Central bank were not good enough.