According to the FBI, there were more than 5,000 bank robberies in 2011. In those robberies, more than $30 million was taken and more than 100 people were injured or killed. Many robberies are solved by the FBI or local law enforcement officers, but there are others that no one has been able to solve.

ABN Amro Bank

In 2007, Antwerp’s ABN Amro Bank was surprised when one of their trusted customers took off with $28 million in diamonds. The thief befriended the staff by giving them frequent gifts for over a year, and the staff eventually gave him a key to the bank vault where diamonds were stored. The supposed “diamond trader” entered the vault one day, took 120,000 carats in diamonds and walked out, never to be seen again. It was later discovered that his passport and name were both faked.

The Most Famous Unsolved Bank Robberies

Banco Itua

Brazil’s Banco Itua was the target of a jewelry heist in 2011. A dozen uniformed men entered the bank posing as workers. Guards never thought anything of it since the building was undergoing renovations. The dozen men spent the next 10 hours breaking into the bank’s vaults and safety deposit boxes.

The thieves walked out with cash and valuable gemstones totaling more than $58 million, and none of it was insured, so bank clients lost everything. For whatever reason, police failed to start their investigation for a full week, and security guards were not interviewed until 11 days after the heist. Many of the victims opted to hire private investigators rather than rely on the police.

First National Vault Robbery

On Columbus Day, thieves stole $1 million in cash from a Chicago bank’s underground vault. No signs of forced entry were found in either the vault or the money cart where the $50 and $100 bills were being stored. As it was a holiday weekend, bank officials didn’t even realize the money was missing until days later and at first thought it was a bookkeeping error, so they didn’t immediately report it.

The Most Famous Unsolved Bank Robberies

The thieves had four days to get away, and there were no leads to go on. Police were stumped. They suspected a bank clerk who seemed to be living beyond his means, but he was fired from the bank for failing a lie detector test, and no charges have ever been filed against him. Four years after the theft, a small portion of the stolen cash turned up in a drug raid, but again, police were unable to trace the path of the money to figure out where it had come from.

Northern Bank Robbery

Belfast was home to a perplexing bank robbery in 2004. Men posing as police officers entered the homes of two bank officials from Northern Bank and took everyone in the homes hostage. With the safety of the families at stake, both bank officials were given instructions that they had to follow in order to save their loved ones.

The next day, after work ended, the two bank officials let the robbers into the vault and they then stole close to $50 million. Police suspected the IRA was behind the crime and arrested several members for money laundering. Money that was seized during the raid could not be definitively tied to Northern Bank. Northern Bank opted to switch to new bank notes that had a different design and colors, so any of the stolen money will be hard to spend.


Skyler Frump is a freelance writer specializing in law, insurance, finance & technology. Those concerned about protecting their own personal identity should check out the ID theft services from Protect Your Bubble.

Image credit goes to mbrand.

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