The Most Spectacular Gold Heists of All Time

A lot of robbers have made detailed plans to heist gold. Most of those plans fall through or result in small hauls. Others go down in the history books as some of the most spectacular gold heists of all time.

The Brink’s-MAT Heist at London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Gold Heist

Image via Flickr by hugh llewelyn

Date: November 26, 1983

Location: London, England

Value: $33 million

Brink’s-MAT, a security company based in Virginia, didn’t do its job very well at its London Heathrow Airport location on November 26, 1983. In what was an obvious inside job, a gang of six men entered the warehouse with the help of a security job. Originally planning to steal about $4 million in cash, they ended up pouring gasoline on security guards and threatening to set them on fire if they didn’t open a vault containing $33 million of gold, diamonds, and cash.

Police suspect that as many as 15 people were involved in the heist, but only three were ever brought to justice.

The Great Ghan Gold Robbery

Ghan Gold Robbery

Image via Flickr by jeaneeem

Date: May 28-30, 1934

Location: Northern Territory, Australia

Value: $550,000

The Great Ghan Gold Robbery didn’t result in the world’s biggest haul, but it is one of the most mysterious heists. While traveling between Alice Springs and Quorn, Australia, someone took 34 pounds of gold from an unguarded safe aboard the Northern Express train. A guarded safe on the train wasn’t even touched. Either the robbers didn’t want any trouble, or it was an inside job.

Authorities never arrested anyone for the crime (they didn’t even know exactly when the crime had occurred). The train company fined one of the guards a small amount for his carelessness.

Weston Gold Robbery

Weston Gold Theft

Image via Flickr by o palsson

Date: June 30, 1861

Location:  Weston, West Virginia

Value: $500,000

West Virginia, the only state established during the Civil War, has a complicated past that not only includes battles between the North and South, but a gold heist that helped fund the Union’s administration. In 1861, Colonel Erastus Tyler, accompanied by the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, roused the residents of Weston in search of secession sympathizers. They were also there to “collect” a large stash of gold intended to pay for the construction of a new railroad.

The Union soldiers left enough money to pay construction workers, but they made off with about $500,000 worth of gold. That money was then used to build a hospital and barracks that helped establish West Virginia as a Union state separate from the seceded Virginia.

Beirut Gold Heist

Beirut Gold Heist

Image via Flickr by austinevan

Date: January 1976

Location: Beirut, Lebanon

Value: Between $20 million and $50 million

Recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as history’s biggest safe deposit box robbery, a group of guerilla soldiers stole a large amount of gold bars, cash, and jewelry from the British Bank of the Middle East. The soldiers stole from numerous safe deposit boxes, so it’s impossible to know exactly how much they took. Many estimate the value between $20 million and $50 million.

A truce later ended much of the fighting between Christian and Muslim forces in Beirut, but one lucky group of soldiers made off with a fortune. They were never officially held accountable for the theft.

Considering gold’s persistently high value, it’s no wonder that so many robbers want to steal it. What would you do if you suddenly had a stash of gold worth hundreds of thousands of dollars?

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