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Billionaire bank robbers do not go to jail

I thought there was something odd with a headline about a recent break in a 2001 murder case: Arrest of inmate imminent. Probably it makes perfect sense to hasten with the arrest of someone already incarcerated. Meanwhile, Allan Stanford, suspected of an $8 Billion dollar fraud, is “laying low” and not under arrest. And Bernard Madoff, of the $50 Billion fraud, is free in his penthouse.

Really. It’s probably too soon to know how the Guinness Book of Records will rank these crimes, but we might guess these are the biggest, even if you include the S&L heists. Although record keepers will note the bank “bailout” heist, the GWOT military industry heist and the Tax Cuts For The Rich heist will eclipse all.

What distinguishes the earlier crime record holders, from these break-the-bank blockbusters, is the urgency expressed, in familiar days, about bringing the guilty to justice.

If asked to name the biggest heist of all time, most of us think of the Great Train Robbery, maybe just because it still has a ring to it. The take was peanuts by today’s standard. Buster Edwards and company stole $3.7 million from the mail train, (today it would be equivalent to $58 million). Still the offenders were undone.

The record before that, thirteen years before, was the 1950 Brinks Robbery for $2.7 million.

Since then: Brinks Mat; Socit Gnrale heist, Nice; Lufthansa, $6M; Heathrow Airport security vehicle $6.5M; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston 1990 $300M; the Oslo National Museum, Oslo 1994 $58M; and the Carlton Hotel Jewelry store, 1994 $44M.

This millennium there was: the Northern Bank Robbery, Belfast, Ireland 2004 $50M; Fortaleza, Brazil bank, 2005 $65M; Securitas Depot robbery, 2006 $92.5M; and I’ve gone a little out of order to list last, the only heist to reach one billion: the Central Bank of Iraq, Baghdad March 2003 $1B;

Does that explain why Messrs Stanford and Madoff are reclining in the luxury of their own abodes, except to illustrate that the rich are different from you and me?

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