ⓘ List of heists in the United Kingdom. A heist is a theft of cash or valuable objects such as artworks, jewellery or bullion. This can take the form of either a ..


ⓘ List of heists in the United Kingdom

A heist is a theft of cash or valuable objects such as artworks, jewellery or bullion. This can take the form of either a burglary or a robbery, the difference in English and Welsh law being that a robbery uses force. In order to be listed here, each heist which took place in the United Kingdom is required to have taken over £1 million at contemporary rates, or to have been notable for other reasons. The earliest heist on the list is the Great Gold Robbery of 1853, in which railway safes were pillaged on a train going from London to Paris. The gang stole £12.000, equivalent to £1.130.000 in 2019, taking inflation into account. The largest heist in terms of the amount stolen was the 1990 City bonds robbery, when a courier carrying 301 bearer bonds worth £291.9 million was mugged on a small City of London street. All but two of the certificates were subsequently recovered, with the heist revealing the global nature of organised crime networks and directly leading to two murders.

The Baker Street robbery was an audacious heist in 1971 which netted the criminals an estimated £3 million equivalent to £43 million in 2019. They tunnelled into a vault below a Lloyds Bank from a shop two doors down the road. Whilst four people were convicted, only one of the five ringleaders had been caught. The Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary of April 2015 shared some similarities with the Baker Street robbery. Five members of the gang were quickly arrested, yet a sixth man known only as "Basil" remained free. He was caught in 2018, when the police raided his flat and found gold and jewellery worth £143.000.

It later transpired that Brian Reader was the mastermind of both the Baker Street and the Hatton Garden heists. He was 76 at the time of the latter. Reader had also been involved in the Brinks-Mat robbery of 1983, for which he served eight years in prison. Terry Perkins was another member of the Hatton Garden gang, who had previously been convicted for his part in the 1983 Security Express robbery and sentenced to 22 years. He absconded from HM Prison Spring Hill and was on the run for 17 years before being caught and serving out the rest of his sentence. Perkins died in HM Prison Belmarsh in 2018, aged 69. Perkins and Danny Jones also convicted for the Hatton Garden robbery were both linked to a previous heist at the Chatila jewellers in Old Bond Street, in 2010.

Another large heist was the Knightsbridge Security Deposit robbery in 1986, which took at least £40 million equivalent to £118 million in 2019. An Italian man later received a 22 year prison sentence for planning the venture with the help of an insider. The gang which carried out the Securitas depot robbery in 2006 impersonated police officers in order to take the manager and his family hostage, stealing £53 million equivalent to £77 million in 2019 and leaving another £153 million behind for lack of space in the getaway vehicle. Five men were later convicted and given sentences of between five and ten years. The Northern Bank robbery was Northern Irelands biggest robbery in 2004. Two managers and their families were taken hostage on Sunday and the heist took place on Monday evening. The Democratic Unionist Party accused the Provisional Irish Republican Army of organising it but nobody has ever been convicted. Likewise, no-one responsible for the 1952 Eastcastle Street robbery was ever apprehended, although gangster Billy Hill admitted to organising it in his memoirs.

The network of criminals termed the Pink Panthers has been linked to several robberies of the Graff jewellery shops in London. The Johnson Gang robbed many stately homes, including Ramsbury Manor, then the home of Harry Hyams, where they plundered goods worth approximately £30 million and Waddesdon Manor, where they took snuffboxes worth £5 million.

Regarding artworks, the Portrait of Jacob de Gheyn III by Rembrandt is held by Dulwich Picture Gallery and has been stolen a total of four times. The painting, which is 12 by 10 inches 30 by 25 cm, was first stolen in 1967 along with 13 other works; they were all found within a week. It was next taken in 1973 by a thief who jumped on a bicycle to make his getaway and was caught within minutes. In 1981, three men took the painting and it was later retrieved from a taxi. The last theft occurred in 1983, when thieves broke into the gallery using ladders; the painting was discovered three years later at a station in Munster, Germany. The Portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Goya was stolen in 1961 from the National Gallery in London. Four years later, Kempton Bunton returned the painting and later gave himself up to the police, although it was revealed long after his death that it was actually his son who had stolen the artwork.

Other stolen artworks include Two Forms Divided Circle by Barbara Hepworth which was taken from Dulwich Park in 2011 and Reclining Figure 1969–70 by Henry Moore, stolen in 2005. America was a golden toilet made as an artwork by Maurizio Cattelan. It was plumbed in to the water mains and being exhibited at Blenheim Palace when it was stolen in 2019. Cattelan said the thieves were "great performers".

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