15 Bizarre Robberies That Would Give Carmen Sandiego A Run for Her Money
You aren’t meant to steal other people’s shit. That’s one of the first lessons most of us are taught, the fundamental rule on which our lifelong understanding of concepts like “justice” and “fairness” are based.
Sometimes, though, it gets a bit more nuanced. Stealing from a massive corporation, for instance, is absolutely more moral than stealing from a little old lady. Stealing out of necessity is much more justifiable than stealing for fun. And stealing weird shit, or doing it in a goofy-ass way, just has a bit more something to it than merely moving some money from A to B.
Once you’re in the territory of insanely convoluted, multistage schemes that all hinge on total lunacy like, “And then we sell all these secondhand potatoes!”, it’s hard not to feel yourself siding at least slightly with the thieves. Or, if not fully siding with them, at least getting a little something out of knowing, even in this futuristic modern world, there are some yahoos out there plotting to wear fake mustaches and hide themselves inside a big fridge to steal milk.
It’s never quite as impossibly glamorous and cool as Carmen Sandiego, the first lady of edutainment and the most smoldering electronic geography tutor ever, made it look, but it all still keeps life interesting.
August 2017: A truck containing up to 20 tons of Nutella — the rightly celebrated, absolutely delicious chocolate spread — and chocolate eggs, worth around $80,000, was stolen in Neustadt, Germany. Dangerously delicious.
December 2008: $90 million of jewels were lifted from Paris’ Harry Winston jewelry store by a group of armed men wearing high heels and women’s wigs. Most of the jewelry has yet to be recovered (but everyone involved looked fabulous).
Cheeseheads Go Rogue
January 2016: Across two incidents in the space of just one week, $160,000 worth of cheese was stolen in Wisconsin. One of the robberies involved an entire cheese-laden trailer being brazenly driven off by a cheddar-crazed opportunist.
Not Mushroom for Error
2005: Black truffles, the ostentatiously expensive mushrooms beloved of fancy-schmancy chefs, sell for huge sums. Thieves with night-vision goggles and rope ladders scaled a Provence truffle warehouse and made off with $100,000 of the stuff. Fun guys.
January 2017: $875,000 worth of bees — an assload of bees, even for an area where they’re in high demand for pollinating trees — were pilfered from Sacramento beekeepers. That’s some 2,500 hives of burgled buzzers.
August 2018: Over 7,000 insects and lizards, worth $40,000, were stolen from the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion. If that sounds low, a few bucks a creature, remember most were insects, and those fuckin’ things are basically free.
Beanie Baby Bandits
April 1996: 60,000 Beanie Babies — the 1990s stuffed-toy phenomenon — vanished from manufacturer Ty’s warehouse, later appearing in flea markets. A 77-year-old man who bought over 1,000 of them was briefly arrested for the crime of getting sick bargains.
The Princess Porn Pilferers
September 1971: Banks are usually robbed for money. However, there is speculation — only speculation — that the infamous Baker Street Robbery, when safety deposit boxes were stolen from Lloyds Bank, was an inside job to retrieve nude photos of Princess Margaret.
2011-2012: In what’s popularly known as the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist, around $20 million worth of the delicious stuff was slowly, oozily stolen over several months. There were at least 17 polite thieves involved, siphoning off Canada’s sticky reserves.
Californian Cashew Crooks
2015-2016: You don’t have to steal nuts to fund organized crime in California… but it helps! Over a six-month period, $10 million of pistachios, cashews, pecans and walnuts were stolen, truckers fraudulently employed to unknowingly transport stolen nuts by the sackful.
2008-2013: Kentucky’s Wild Turkey and Buffalo Trace distilleries had hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of whiskey stolen from them over several years, without noticing. It’s almost like everyone there was hammered or something.
Money Stubble? Take This for Your Trouble
January 1972: A crew of crooks robbed the safety deposit boxes of Manhattan’s Pierre Hotel wearing fake beards and glasses — real Wooly Willy vibes. On their way out, they tipped each of their hostages a princely $20.
April 2015: London’s Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company robbery became the stuff of legend due to the sheer elderliness of everyone involved. $21 million of cash and jewels were stolen by a group of septuagenarians going out with a bang.
First Edition: Impossible
January 2017: If rappelling into a warehouse like Ethan Hunt, you’d expect to be stealing something pretty high-tech. However, a Romanian gang did exactly that in order to pinch 160 irreplaceable books dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. NERDS!
October 2007: Churches are regularly robbed, but one in Russia was stolen. The villagers of Komarovo took an abandoned church apart, brick by brick, and sold it to a local businessman for his projects. Their actions were described as “blasphemy.”