January 17

This Day in History

Crime

Jan 17, 1950:

The Great Brinks Robbery

A team of 11 thieves, in a precisely timed and choreographed strike, steals more than $2 million from the Brinks Armored Car depot in Boston, Massachusetts. The Great Brinks Robbery, as it quickly became known, was the almost perfect crime. Only days before the statute of limitations was set to expire on the crime, the culprits were finally caught.

Tony Pino, a lifelong criminal, was the mastermind behind the audacious theft. Together with Joe McGinnis, he assembled a group that meticulously planned the heist. They staked out the depot for a year and a half to figure out when it was holding the most money. Then, the gang stole the plans for the depot's alarm system and returned them before anyone noticed that they were missing.

The criminal team held repeated rehearsals, with each man wearing blue coats and Halloween masks. On January 17, they finally put their plan into action. Inside the counting room, the gang surprised the guards and tied up the employees. Multiple canvas bags, weighing more than half a ton, were filled with cash, coins, checks, and money orders. Within 30 minutes, the Brinks robbery team was gone--taking $2.7 million with them. They left no clues at all.

Next, the gang met and split the proceeds of the theft. They agreed that each would stay out of trouble for six years and they almost made it. However, one of the men, Specs O'Keefe, left his share with another member because he had to serve a prison sentence for another crime. O'Keefe, worried that he would be cheated out of his money, indicated that he might begin to talk. The others decided to send a hit man to kill O'Keefe but he was only wounded, and the assassin was caught. O'Keefe made a deal with police and testified against the others. Eight participants in the Great Brinks Robbery were caught and convicted. However, only a small part of the money was ever recovered.

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