The Summer Bliss Robbery (2012) – 216 kg Gold Bars
On November 30, 2012, masked men in police jackets boarded the Summer Bliss fishing boat in Curaçao and stole 70 gold bars weighing a total of 216kg. Estimated worth of the haul: $11.5 million. The gold shipment was being transhipped through Curaçao and officials on the island had been advised that it was coming beforehand as part of normal security procedures.
Six men entered the boat, striking the captain over the head. The gold was looted in a matter of minutes, the bandits making off with the 486 lbs of gold bullion in three separate cars. Over the following months, seven people were arrested in suspicion of the robbery, but due to conflicting reports, witness discrepancies, a history of local government corruption and dubious police cooperation the suspects were never charged.
To this date, the Curaçao gold heist remains unsolved.
Kerry Packer Safe Cracking (1995) – 285 kg Gold Bullion
On the last weekend of April 1995, a mastermind criminal known only as “Mr. X” pulled off the most audacious gold bar heist at the home of Sydney-based media mogul Kerry Packer. The thief got away with 285kg of gold bullion worth $5.4 million. The cops who were tailing “Mr. X” said he was so good at what he did that, though police knew it had to be him, he never gave them an inch, despite hundreds of hours of police surveillance. The police couldn’t even make an arrest, let alone charge the intelligent safecracker.
Kerry Packer (left) and Mr “X” the man believed to have been involved in the theft of Kerry Packer’s gold
Police suspect that “Mr. X” walked into Kerry Packer’s Australian Consolidated Press building and jimmied open two doors with either a crowbar or screwdriver. From there, he entered Packer’s office and headed straight to the safe that was hidden in a drinks cabinet. Experts believe he cracked the Chubb-brand safe in a matter of minutes and left very little evidence behind other than a small burn on the carpet from a charred piece of metal. He then wheeled 285kg of gold bars out of the building, packed them on to the back of his utility vehicle and simply drove away.
After leading police on a wild goose chase for months on end, leading them to dead-end after dead-end, the police finally gave up and closed the case. For 15 years after, “Mr. X” continued to live a normal lifestyle and didn’t slip up once, no spending sprees, no incriminating evidence and he even drove the same beaten-up Ford Falcon.
Sergeant John Jungblut of the Sydney police said: “He was one of the best crooks I’ve ever, ever had to work on.”
Sibanye Gold Mine Theft (2014) – 508 kg Gold Concentrate
On June 11, 2014, 20 miners, employees of the Sibanye Gold Mine in South Africa, were arrested after a six-month police operation that saw them steal over 508kg of gold. The men were believed to have stolen over $20 million worth of gold concentration (a sand-like substance with high purity levels of gold) over a year while working at the gold mine. A police source said the suspects had used specially designed bags that were fitted inside their overalls to steal the gold concentrate. It would then be taken to secret locations where other members of the syndicate would take the gold for processing.
Although all 20 miners faced court proceedings at the Oberholzer Magistrates’ Court in Carletonville, very little can be found online about the verdict of the case.
Golden Door Jewelry Creations Armed Robbery (1983) – 736 kg Gold
On February 10, 1983, two masked gunmen stole gold bullion estimated to be worth up to $11 million from Golden Door Jewelry Creations, a large gold smelting company and jewelry wholesaler based in North Miami, Florida. The two bandits wearing nylon stockings over their heads burst into the jewelry wholesalers, tied up the owner and two other employees and got away with a whopping 736kg of gold bars, spools, chains, and jewelry. The robbers never got caught and the gold was never found.
Guarulhos Airport Armed Robbery (2019) – 748 kg Gold Bars
A group of armed robbers stole a haul of gold bullion worth at least $30 million from Guarulhos Airport in Brazil on Thursday, July 25, 2019. Eight men targeted a cargo terminal driving two trucks that resembled those of the Brazilian federal police. Four men exited the trucks with covered faces with at least one of the men carrying a rifle. Two airport workers were taken hostage during the ordeal but they were both released unharmed.
The armed robbers left the airport with 748kg of gold bullion and other precious metals due for shipment to Zurich and New York. Three suspects were arrested, all logistics workers from the airport itself. There is an ongoing investigation into the gold heist and as of yet, no one has been charged.
Brink’s-Mat Robbery (1983) – 3 tons of Gold Bars
The Brink’s-Mat Robbery is the largest gold bullion heist in British history.
At 6:30 am on November 26, 1981, a gang of six armed robbers from South London broke into the Brink’s-Mat warehouse at Heathrow Airport. The robbers, led by Mickey McAvoy and Brian Robinson, had expected to make off with £3m in cash. Anthony Black, a Brinks-Mat security guard who was living with Brian Robinson’s sister at the time, was the inside help and gave the South London gang quick access to the site, where they overpowered other security guards by dousing them in petrol and threatening to set them alight.
Brian Robinson (left), Micky McAvoy and Kenneth Noye (right)
The inside information from Anthony Black also helped the robbers disarm a number of highly advanced security systems, but when the safe was opened they soon realized they had a completely different problem/fortune on their hands. Instead of being faced with £3 million of easily transportable cash, the gang found 6,800 gold bars divided into 76 cases–as well as a stash of £100,000 worth of cut and uncut diamonds–all bound for the Middle East. Shifting this amount of gold bullion was a challenge the robbers were not expecting, so a number of the gang were sent to get better transportation.
With a bigger getaway van now in place, the gang loaded all of the gold bullion using the warehouse’s forklift truck but it still took them nearly two hours to clear the safe completely. They left the Brink’s-Mat warehouse at 8:15 am. Not long after 8:30 am the alarm was raised by one of the security guards.
Needless to say, converting the gold bullion into cash was another major hurdle. They were forced to approach a senior underworld crime boss known only as “The Fox” who had the gangland connections to smelt down the gold and distribute it through the “appropriate” avenues. The robbers also had the assistance of a jeweler named Solly Nahome, who agreed to sell the smelted-down gold.
One of the robbers, Brian Robinson, was caught after security guard Anthony Black, now his brother-in-law, mentioned his name to officers that were investigating the case. Robinson was arrested in December 1983 and police quickly discovered the family connection and Black confessed to aiding and abetting the whole operation.
Micky McAvoy entrusted a portion of his share to George Francis and Brian Perry. Perry then recruited Kenneth Noye, who had the knowledge and know-how to safely dispose of the gold bullion, but large amounts of money moving through a Bristol Bank raised suspicions of the Bank of England who in turn alerted the police.
McAvoy and Robinson were soon jailed for 25 years each and Anthony Black was sentenced to six years. However, the majority of the 3,000 kg of gold bullion has never been recovered and the other four members of the gang were never convicted. By 1996, half of the gold that had been smelted was thought to have made its way back to the legitimate gold market, and according to the BBC, anyone who had bought gold jewelry in 1983 is probably still wearing Brink’s-Mat!!
British Bank of the Middle East Heist (1976) – 12 tons of Gold Bars
On January 20, 1976, eight armed men stole 12 tons of gold bullion bars and ingots worth $50 million from the British Bank of the Middle East in Beirut. Another $160 million of silver and platinum, gemstones, bonds, Lebanese and foreign currency, and stock certificates were also plundered in the raid. The group of men involved, who were associated with Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), took advantage of the chaos and civil unrest in the country and broke into the bank easily without alerting authorities.
The robbers used brute force to gain entry into the bank, blasting through a wall that was shared with a Catholic church. A police report assumes that with the help of a team of locksmiths, the group cracked the vault and stole the entire contents. None of the money or gold bullion has been recovered, and no one has ever been charged for the crime.
The Spanish Looting of the Incas (1516-1650) – 181 tons of Gold
In 1516, Spain conquered Peru and completely destroyed and ransacked the ancient Incan civilization. Gold bars, ingots, silver, jewelry and gold coins were transported by ships across the sea to Spain and it is said that over 181 tons of gold and 16,000 tons of silver were looted from the New World. In today’s money, that’s over $8.5 billion in gold bullion.
When you think of countries stealing from other countries, this may not sound like a lot in the current world climate with trillion-dollar national budgets. Nevertheless, during the period of 1516-1650, prices across Europe rose by an unmanageable 500% due greatly to the imports of gold and silver bullion to Spain.
Nazi Germany Gold Plunder (1939-1945) – 1,038 tons of Gold
The Nazi Germany Gold Plunder is the stolen gold (or Raubgold in German) that was plundered throughout World War II to help Nazi Germany finance their war efforts.
It is believed that Hitler executed a policy of looting the assets of countries, companies and private citizens by collecting looted assets in central depositories and transferring the gold bullion to overseas banks. $550m in gold was looted from foreign governments alone, including $223m from Belgium and $193m from the Netherlands. These figures don’t include the hoards of gold instruments, gold jewelry and even gold teeth that were plucked from the victims and prisoners of Nazi concentration camps.
Japanese Invasion of China (1937) – 6,600 tons of Gold
Prince Chichibu of Japan, the younger brother of Emperor Hirohito, was assigned by the emperor as the head of a top-secret operation called Golden Lily – a highly secretive group tasked with looting China for all its wealth, including cash, gems, China’s gold coins, precious metals, and gold bullion. Starting In 1937, the Rape of Nanking began, and the task force carried out its duty with full force.
The gold bullion hoard was much larger than expected and the Japanese looted Nanking for over 6,000 metric tonnes of gold bullion, a bounty of silver and an unimaginable amount of precious gemstones, making the Japanese Invasion of China one of the biggest gold heists ever recorded.