By Jan Skoyles
Gold has captured the imaginations of crime writers and filmmakers for years, but sometimes there are gold heists that you just can’t make up.
Thefts involving the world’s most precious metal always make headlines. Some aren’t even that daring, but it is the thought that something pirates, invaders, highwaymen and bandits used to risk their lives to steal, is still the ultimate loot. In newspaper reports there is always an underlying sense of admiration for the sheer brazenness of the robbers and some incredulity at what they may or may not have pulled off.
‘Hang on lads I’ve got a great idea,’ must feature in every gold robbery that ever took place. Do they all end in a van balanced in precarious positions? Not in this list, no. But some do end up in far worse situations, whilst others disappear into thin air. We look at our five top gold robberies of all time and enjoy the thrill of learning how some meticulously planned their heist, whilst others merely stumbled upon a pot of gold.
The Great Gold Robbery
Quite possibly the most famous of all the gold robberies, this notorious Victorian crime took place on the 15th of May 1855 when 91 kgs of gold was stolen from Abell and Co., Spielmann, and Bult.
The three firms had placed the precious cargo, containing gold bars and coins, on a South Eastern Railway Company train at London Bridge before heading to Boulogne in France.
The three boxes of gold were then estimated to be worth £12,000, which is around £2.3 million at the current market price.
Due to a great spate of train robberies at the time, security was tight. Not only were the boxes checked and sealed before leaving London Bridge, by the carrier company Chaplin & Co., but they were secured with iron bars.
Two different keys were needed to open the boxes. The keys were kept apart, by trusted employees of the railway.
“The safe keys were entrusted to railway staff in London and Folkestone and also to the captain of the cross-channel steamer. It was the practice to load the safes with the guard on the night train from London to Folkestone,” British Transport Police.