The 10 Most Brilliant Criminal Minds in History

1 – D. B. Cooper

D.B. Cooper is a famous criminal that made history by leaping from an airborne airliner in 1971 on the eve of Thanksgiving. Cooper boarded a commercial flight of Northwest Orient Airlines in Portland, Oregon and once on board, he ordered a drink and handed the stewardess a note saying that he had a bomb in his briefcase. He told the stewardess to take the note to the captain demanding four parachutes and $200,000 in twenty dollar bills. As the plane landed in Seattle, Cooper exchanged 36 passengers for his demands and the plane took off again for Mexico City. In between Seattle and Reno, Cooper jumped out of the plane in a parachute with the money. The incident is now known as NORJACK for Northwest hijacking and till now, no one knows if the passenger called D.B. Cooper is still alive or not.


2 – Derek “Bertie” Smalls

Bertie Smalls is from north London and at a young age of 15, he was already arrested for breaking into a railway restaurant car. He was sentenced to serve in a reform school. From that day on, Smalls dedicated his life to armed robbery. He and his group plundered numerous banks all over London and when questioned about his activities, he always had an alibi and his only adult convictions were very minor. When he was arrested after a raid in his home in 1972, he resorted in self-preservation by giving up information on his accomplices in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Derek “Bertie” Smalls


 3 – The Vacuum Gang


Armed with just a drill and a modified vacuum cleaner, the Vacuum Gang or the “gang a l’aspirateur” has robbed 15 supermarket chains in France. French supermarkets, specifically Monoprix supermarkets, use a vulnerable type of system for channelling funds into their safes. Cashiers use pneumatic suction pipes where they slide their money into the safe; the gang simply drilled a hole in the pipe that was near the trunk and connected a powerful vacuum cleaner to capture the money. The Vacuum Gang’s series of heists has totalled a haul of nearly 600,000 Euros since 2006.



4 – The Credit Lyonnais Burglars

The Credit Lyonnais bank robbers were famous for robbing a Credit Lyonnais branch in Avenue de l’Opera in Paris, France.

Why is this robbery unusually famous?

It’s because the burglars were able to get to the bank vault by tunneling into the bank in central Paris. The burglars were exceptionally lucky that night since there was only one security guard on duty. They tied the guard and in about 9 hours, made off with all the money and valuables contained in more than 200 private safe boxes! Whether it was an inside job or not, the Credit Lyonnais burglars were able to pull out one of the most successful, and lucky, bank robberies in the city.

Credit Lyonnais Burglars


 5 – The Friday Night Robber

Carl Gugasian or The Friday Night Robber is dubbed as the most prolific criminals in US history. He has robbed more than 50 banks in a 30 year period with a total of $2 million to his name. How did Gugasian manage to pull out all these successful heists? He had been very meticulous in his planning and execution; however, a simple case of bad luck revealed his identity. His stash of weapons, disguises and survival rations were found by teenage boys in a concrete drainage pipe near Gugasian’s home in Radnor, Pennsylvania. He is now serving 17 years in prison.

Carl Gugasian


6 – Boston Art Robbers

On March 1990, two thieves disguised as Boston police officers entered into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, tied up two watchmen and stole 13 priceless artworks. The FBI believed that the suspects were members of a criminal organization based in the Mid-Atlantic States and New England. Stolen artworks included paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer and other very popular artists. The heist was known as the largest art robbery in history. Till date, the Boston Art Robbers still remain at large.

Boston Art Robbers


7 – The School of Turin

Leonardo Notarbartolo was the leader of a ring of Italian thieves known as The School of Turin. He and his group broke into a vault two floors beneath the Antwerp Diamond Center and were able to steal at least $100 million worth of loose diamonds, jewellery, gold and other precious gems in February 2003. The School of Turin was able to penetrate the vault that had 10 layers of security, infrared sensors, Doppler radars, a seismic sensor, a magnetic field and a lock that held 100 million possible combinations! No one could explain how the group broke in and the loot was never found. However, based on circumstantial evidence, Notarbartolo was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

School of Turin


8 – The Pink Panthers Group

The Pink Panthers Group targets high end jewellery stores in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the United States. It is believed that the group has carried out robberies worth more than 330 million Euros since the group debuted in 1999 with more than 340 robberies in 35 countries all over the world. And possibly what makes the Pink Panther Group different from other robbers is that their moves are quick and unpredictable. Once they dressed up as ladies to rob a jewellery store while their most reckless heists include driving two cars into a shopping mall in Dubai where they were able to get an estimated 3 million Euros in jewellery.

Pink Panthers Group


9 – The 300 Million Yen Robber


Dubbed as the biggest crime of all time in Japan is the 300 Million Yen Robbery which happened nearly 50 years ago. The heist was actually simple. A bank car carrying almost 300 million yen or about $800,000, was out to deliver money for employee bonuses and was stopped by a police officer. The alleged officer said that the bank manager’s house was just blown up and there were reports that the car was next. The four bank employees immediately got out of the car and panicked. The officer looked under the car all of a sudden, smoke came out from below. The officer hopped on the driver’s seat and drove away with the cash! The employees were tricked with a fake smoke bomb and flare! The robber was able to get away and to this day, his identity is still a mystery.

300 Million Yen Robber


10 – Baker Street Burglars

The Baker Street Burglars were no ordinary robbers; they were able to evade police simply because they were able to plan ahead. The robbers were able to tunnel through Lloyds Bank located on the corner of Baker Street and Marylebone Road in London in 1971. They rented a leather goods shop which was two doors down from the bank and tunneled around 50 feet passing under a restaurant. A ham radio operator was able to overhear the robbers and their lookout conversations and reported the crime to the police. Authorities dismissed that there was something going on in the bank simply because the vault was still intact. The robbers were able to get away with the contents of 260 safety deposit boxes and £1.5 million in cash.

Baker Street Burglars



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