Three Multi-Million Dollar Thefts That Made Headlines

A robbery can be financially devastating—that’s indisputable. But if you’re anything like us, larger-than-life stories of million-dollar heists still fascinate you. We’re certainly interested from the perspective of a claims adjuster in Philadelphia, but we also just love a good old-fashioned tale of intrigue—like these three historical heists that still have people talking.

The Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre Robbery

Valerio Viccei was already wanted for over 50 armed robberies in his native Italy when he migrated to the UK in 1986. Viccei decided to add one more theft to his list: The Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre. Under the ruse of renting a safe deposit box, Viccei and his accomplice managed to enter one of the vaults, then subdued the manager and guards on duty.

After hanging a sign that said that the Centre was temporarily closed, Viccei let in even more accomplices, and proceeded to raid the vaults for what amounted to $174 million in today’s currency. Viccei successfully fled to Latin America, leaving his accomplices behind to be arrested, but was caught when he returned to the UK to bring his Ferrari back across the pond.

The Antwerp Diamond Center Heist

In 2003, the supposedly impenetrable vault of the Antwerp Diamond Center in Belgium was not only broken into, but relieved of over $100 million’s worth of jewelry, gold and diamonds. The ringleader of the attempt was an Italian named Leonardo Notarbartolo, who along with a crew of thieves opened 123 out of 160 safe deposit boxes, all of which were assigned a unique key and combination lock. To this day, police forces involved in the case can’t quite explain how Notarbartolo and his gang got around the Center’s extensive security measures.

In an interesting twist, Notarbartolo claimed in an interview with Wired magazine that theft wasn’t entirely his idea. He told Wired that he was, in fact, put up to the task by a diamond merchant who was attempting to commit insurance fraud.

Isabella Stuart Garden Museum Theft

One March 18, 1990, two thieves masquerading as Boston police officers and hoodwinked their way into the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. They proceeded to steal thirteen works of art valued at an estimated $500 million, making this heist the single largest theft of private property in history.

The Museum is actually the converted Victorian mansion and Italian-style villa of Isabella Stuart Gardner, a turn-of-the-century patron of the arts whose collection at the time of her death included works by John Singer Sargent and Johannes Vermeer. Nearly all of her collection is still intact, but the artwork stolen on the day of the theft has never been recovered. However, Gardner stipulated in her will that nothing in the museum be moved after her death. For that reason, visitors to the museum can still see where the stolen paintings used to be: The frames from which the paintings were cut still hang on the museum walls.

What To Do After a Home Robbery

These stories are interesting and amusing at a distance, but when a robbery happens in your own home, it’s anything but. Citiwide Adjusters is here to help you win the largest insurance settlement claim possible if you’ve suffered a property theft. Call our public insurance adjusters in Bucks County, PA for a free consultation on your claim.


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