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Hong Kong burglar steals £ 400 million worth of valuables, including Chairman Mao's calligraphy



Graff Diamonds, £ 40m, 2009

The raid on Graff Diamonds is considered the largest jewelry heist in the UK and, according to The Week, is among the most intelligent in history.

At 4:40 pm on August 6, 2009, two sharply dressed men posing as customers walked into the Graff Diamonds premises on New Bond Street in London and stole nearly £ 40 million worth of jewelry.

They used a professional makeup artist to disguise their appearances and a series of getaway cars to escape through the capital.

The robbers were caught shortly after police searched one of the getaway cars abandoned by the robbers. A pay-as-you-go cell phone was discovered that robbers Aman Kassaye and Craig Calderwood left in the car after they rammed into a black cab.

After the collision, the robbers, in their rush to transfer to a second vehicle, forgot the cell phone that was jammed between the driver's seat and the handbrake. Anonymous numbers stored on the cell phone allowed the police to quickly identify the robber.

Banco Central, £ 55m, 2005

The break-in of Banco Central in Brazil, considered one of the largest robberies in the world, was carried out by a small gang who tunneled 250 feet into the bank's vault.

On Saturday, August 6, 2005, a gang of intruders tunneled into the bank and removed five containers with 50 banknotes.

The robbers rented a piece of land near the bank and disguised it as a landscaping business so they could move large amounts of dirt and stone without suspicion.

It took them three months to build the tunnel, which included a sophisticated lighting system and even air conditioning.

The money was not insured, a bank spokesman said the risks were too low to justify the insurance premiums.

The burglars managed to evade or disable the bank's internal alarms and sensors, and the break-in went undetected until the bank opened its doors the following Monday.

Hatton Garden, £ 14m, 2015

While the Hatton Garden case was smaller than other heists on the list, it caught the public's imagination and used a romanticized view of a traditional bank robbery.

The burglars worked during the four-day weekend of the Easter holiday when many of the nearby stores (many of which were also linked to the Hatton Garden jewelry trade) closed.

There was no externally visible sign of forced entry into the premises. It was reported that the burglars entered the premises through an elevator shaft and then drilled through the 50 centimeter thick vaulted walls with a Hilti DD350 industrial drill.

The raid received even greater attention when it was revealed that it had been orchestrated by four retirees.

It was later turned into a film, King of Thieves, starring Matthew Goode and Joely Richardson.

Central Bank of Iraq, £ 620m, 2003

This is considered to be the largest bank robbery in history and one of the most controversial.

In March 2003, a few days before the US invasion of Iraq, the country's dictator, Saddam Hussein, withdrew nearly US $ 1 billion from the central bank.

A few years later, a handwritten note stated that the Iraqi President had ordered the bank to give his son Qusay $ 920 million (then £ 560 million) and $ 100 million (£ 60 million).

Bank officials said Hussein's son personally oversaw the boxes of $ 100 bills that were loaded into trucks during a five-hour operation.

About $ 650 million, possibly part of the treasure, was later found hidden within the walls of his palace. Qusay was killed by US forces in a gun battle in July 2003 and less than half the money was ever reclaimed.

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