Masterminds and Mischief: 50 Stories of Audacious Robberies

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26Stradivarius Theft Confession

Stradivarius Theft Confession

Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman lost a rare million-dollar Stradivarius violin in 1936. The thief, a café musician named Julian Altman, became famous and performed for presidents. 49 years after the theft, he confessed to the theft on his deathbed, and his wife received a $263,000 finder's fee.

27. The Forty Elephants, or Forty Thieves, was an all-women crime syndicate in London in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that specialized in shoplifting and pretending to be maids, robbing wealthy families who hired them.

28. A year after receiving her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, actress Winona Ryder faced arrest for shoplifting over $5,000 worth of merchandise from Saks Fifth Avenue. Los Angeles D.A. Stephen Cooley assembled a team of eight prosecutors for the case.

29. In 2015, a group of old men nicknamed the "Grandpa Gang," with the oldest member being 76, committed the biggest bank robbery in English history. After climbing down an elevator shaft and drilling through a concrete wall, they stole more than $200 million in cash and jewels.

30. The Stopwatch Gang consisted of three Canadian bank robbers who were known for their brilliant planning of heists, politeness to victims, and non-violent methods, all while robbing banks within 90 seconds.

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31Russia's Highway Slab Swindle

Russia's Highway Slab Swindle

An official in Russia's Komi region stole 50 kilometers (31 miles) of highway in 2016. Over 7,000 concrete slabs were dismantled and sold for private profit.

32. Naples' 16th-century Girolamini library was systematically looted by the library's director. The library's director systematically looted thousands of rare and historically invaluable books, including the works of Galileo and Kepler. Many are still missing, and the director was sentenced to 7 years of house arrest.

33. A French soldier stole the Orlov diamond from the Srirangam temple in India and sold it to a merchant, who smuggled it to Amsterdam. Count Grigory Orlov bought it and gifted it to Catherine the Great. She encrusted the diamond in the Imperial Sceptre in 1774.

34. The town of Shitterton, England, kept getting its town sign stolen. In 2010, they finally solved the problem by installing a 1.6-ton concrete slab with the town name inscribed on it.

35. In 2014, police broke up a Lego heist ring in New York for stealing $40,000 worth of bricks and found that one of the suspects was also in possession of another $160,000 worth of bricks-18 pallets in total.

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36Route 666: Devil's Souvenirs

Route 666: Devil's Souvenirs

S Route 666, nicknamed "The Devil's Highway," was renamed to Route 491 in 2003, and within days of the announcement, all the old signs containing the number 666 were stolen as souvenirs.

37. The demand for human teeth for dentures was so high in the early 1800s that, after the Battle of Waterloo, looters scavenged teeth from the dead soldiers on the battlefield. Looters stole the teeth in such high numbers that dentures made from them became known as "Waterloo Teeth."

38. The largest theft ever investigated by Quebec police was the "Great Maple Syrup Heist," in which 3,000 tons of maple syrup, worth $18.7 million, was extracted from 9,571 barrels and replaced with water.

39. In 1971, burglars were able to steal records from the FBI simply by leaving a note on the front door of the Delaware office that said, "Please don't lock this door tonight."

40. Fragments of porcelain from spark plugs are so effective at breaking windows easily and quietly that they're known as 'Ninja Rocks' and listed by the State of California as burglary tools.

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41Spider-Man Suits: Set Theft Saga

Spider-Man Suits: Set Theft Saga

Thieves stole four Spider-Man suits from the Spider-Man set in 2002. The suits cost $50,000 to make, and Sony offered $25,000 for their return. An 18-month investigation led to the recovery of the suits in Los Angeles, New York, and Tokyo. A security guard who worked on the set stole them.

42. America's first bank robbery took place in 1798. Around $162,821 was stolen from the Bank of Pennsylvania, but the thief was caught soon because he deposited the stolen money back into the same bank.

43. Chinese billionaires are attempting to reclaim China's cultural artifacts looted by colonial powers in the 19th century. Their efforts range from "buying back" said artifacts to hiring thieves to steal them away from museums and private collections.

44. Unknown individuals stole a Boeing 727 aircraft from an airport in Angola in 2003. Neither the plane nor the two men aboard were ever found.

45. In 2015, there were several reports of mysterious teens in Colorado who were breaking into homes, stealing snacks, namely Hot Pockets, and watching anime. They never stole cash or any valuables, just snacks.

46Paris Hilton's Teen Robbers

Paris Hilton's Teen Robbers

A group of teenagers robbed Paris Hilton of millions in jewels in 2008. She had left her mansion unlocked with no one home and didn't notice the robbery for weeks.

47. In 2011, James Verone intentionally robbed $1 from a bank in North Carolina to be sent to prison and receive medical care. He handed a teller a note demanding a dollar, then waited calmly on a sofa for the police to arrive.

48. Mark DeFriest, believed to be an autistic savant, was sentenced to four years in prison for 'stealing' tools left to him in his father's will in 1979. Due to his ability to memorize and reproduce jailers' keys simply by looking at them, Mark DeFriest was cumulatively imprisoned for 34 years, with 27 of those years spent in solitary confinement as a result of multiple escapes.

49. Nicolas Cage once owned a copy of Action Comics #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman, which was worth $2 million. It was stolen from his house in 2000 and found in an abandoned storage locker 11 years later.

50. For years, shoplifters were using self-service checkouts to scan exotic fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, at a major UK supermarket chain. This theft was only discovered when the supermarket noticed they had sold more carrots than they'd ever had in stock.

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