Throughout history there have been countless bank robbers but only a select few have ever been considered famous due to the style and trickery involved. One of the most mysterious bank robberies in London was the Baker Street Burglary in 1971 as it was surrounded by scandal and government cover-ups.
Popular Robbers of the United States
The United States also has a rich history of famous bank robbers that include outlaws like Butch Cassidy whom lead the Hole in the Wall Game, Emmett Dalton the leader of the Dalton Gang in the 1890s, and of course Clyde Barrow of the notorious Bonnie and Clyde. Other popular and well known thieves throughout American history include the James-Younger Gang that ran from 1866-1881, and included Frank and Jesse James, there is also Harry Longabaugh who is better known as “The Sundance Kid”, to only name a few (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bank_robbers_and_robberies).
According to http://www.complex.com, the top 10 most notorious bank robbers of all time include:
10. J.L Hunter “Red” Rountree (1911-2004)
9. Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd (1904-1934)
8. Henry Starr (1874-1921)
7. Frank “Jelly” Nash (1887-1933)
6. Charles “Chaz” Williams
5. Clyde Barrow (1910-1934)
4. Butch Cassidy (1866-1908)
3. Jesse James (1847-1882)
2. John Dillinger (1903-1934)
1. Willie Sutton (1901-1980)
Burglaries of London
The Baker Street Burglary was not the only widely talked about bank robbery to happen in London. Well before the Baker Street Burglary there was the Croydon Airport robber in 1935 and the Heathrow Airport robbery in 1948. In 1935 the Sabini gang stole 12 million euros in gold bullion from the Croydon Airport and in 1948 Jack Spot attempted to steal 15 million euro world of gold cullion but was not successful because of the Flying Squads intervention (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bank_robbers_and_robberies). The Knightbridge Security Deposit robbery in 1987 was similar to the Baker Street Burglary but the leader Valerio Viccei was caught when he returned to the country (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bank_robbers_and_robberies). London has a rich history of bank robbers and there are countless fantastic books about bank robbers that have in depth information on some of the more notorious and famous bank robbers of the United Kingdom.
The Baker Street Burglary
Even though the Baker Street Burglary is one of the more mysterious robberies in London’s history there was never a lot of talk or information disclosed about it making it even more mysterious. The robbery occurred on September 11, 1971 on the corner of Baker Street and Marylebone Road where the Lloyds Bank was located. The robbery also commonly called the “walkie-talkie bank job” was a success for the burglars as they stole 5 million euros worth of currency (http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/mar/11/film.ukcrime). The robbers had a well thought out plan and had rented a leather goods shop located two doors down from the bank and then they tunneled two doors over to the bank. They then used a thermal lance to attempt to break into the vault but eventually had to turn to explosives as the lance was not successful (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker_Street_robbery).
The reason so many are interested in the Baker Street Burglary is because of the government’s involvement as well as Robert Rowlands involvement. Robert Rowlands, an amateur radio enthusiast, heard the burglars as they were communicating via their walkie-talkies and called in a tip to the local police before the robbery was set to take place. Rowlands recorded the thieves’ conversations but there was not enough evidence to know which bank was going to be robbed. The police checked over 750 banks located with a 10 mile radius around Rowlands’ receiver. They even checked the Baker Street bank but found no evidence of the robbery. What the police did not realize was that the burglars were in the bank when they were checking it but because they had tunneled in the security doors were still locked which indicated that everything was fine (www.coolinterstingstuff.com/the-baker-street-burglary).
The thieves easily escaped with quite a bit of loot form the safety deposit boxes within the bank. What many find interesting is that three to four days after the robbery there was a D-Notice issued by the British authorities which asked that all reporting on the robbery be discontinued and that the story be removed and disappear from the newspaper. There has been much speculation as to why the D-Notice was issued and it is believed that it was due to the fact that there were nationally sensitive materials pertaining to the British Royal Family in one of the stolen safety deposit boxes (http://coolinterestingstuff.com/the-baker-street-burglary). The radio operator Rowlands even claims that that he was ordered to stop talking to the press about what he had heard that nice as an effort to hide how incompetent the police force had been.
Some believe that the true thieves have never been caught or if they were their real identities and sentences have yet to be reviled. However, in 1973 it was reported that four men had been arrested and convicted for the crime; the convicted men were Anthony Gavin, Thomas Stephens, Reginald Tucker, and Benjamin Wolfe. The first three got 12 years and Benjamin Wolfe got 8 years in prison (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker_Street_robbery).
The Baker Street Burglary was a clever and innovative robbery that resulted in many stories of royal family scandal and government cover ups. There are great books about robbers out there that lend insight into the mind of a robber and how clever they truly are. It is said that inside the vault of the Lloyds Bank was a simple note that had been left behind by the robbers “Let