In the movies, bank robbers and burglars are often charming rogues who always stay one step ahead of the police, but in real life they're usually just sloppy, terrible meth heads who get arrested within minutes of attempting their first heist.
However, every so often a real-life bandit or group of bandits manages to outshine their cinematic counterparts with a scheme so clever, so bold, or so insane that we can't help but be in awe of them.
#6. Ax-Wielding Bikers Pillage a Mall Jewelry Store in Broad Daylight
The following happened, in our actual world:
On the morning of November 6, 2012, a gang of six apocalyptic marauders came blazing up onto the second floor of London's Brent Cross mall on a fleet of motorcycles and robbed the shit out of a jewelry store before peeling out through the mall's front entrance and Quantum Leaping back into the netherverse, never to be seen again.
The raiders stormed into the shopping mall dressed head to toe in jet black riding armor and Snake Eyes helmets and roared up to Fraser Hart jewelers two to a bike, where the pillion riders hopped off wielding axes and bats and proceeded to smash the store into fucking dust. Keep in mind, this is in broad daylight in the middle of a giant commerce center, which is another way of saying there is plenty of cellphone footage of the incident:
Within a matter of minutes, the raiders had snatched up more than $3.1 million in Cartier and Rolex watches, loose diamonds, and an undisclosed number of those Jane Seymour "Forever Heart" pendants. Then they leaped back onto their doom cycles and thundered off, screaming at random bystanders and dropping loot like cartoon bandits in their wake.
Mall security sprang into action and locked down the entire mall just in time to prevent the bikers from returning and stealing anything else and keep the panicked, terrorized throngs of mid-morning shoppers trapped inside. Investigators found three stolen motorbikes dumped at a nearby golf course, but the trail of jewels apparently didn't lead any further than that, because the riders themselves remain shrouded in mystery.
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We assume their biker babe girlfriends got the best proposals in history.
#5. Thieves Stage a $30 Million Art Heist Featuring Car Bombs and a Speedboat Escape
The phrase "art theft" is more likely to call to mind The Thomas Crown Affair, Vincent Cassel doing parkour, or Catherine Zeta-Jones' butt getting attacked by laser beams than earth-shattering explosions and burst-firing machine pistols. That's why absolutely everyone was taken by surprise when two cars suddenly burst into flames near the National Museum of Fine Arts in Stockholm, Sweden, and a man strolled inside with an MP5 (more commonly known as "the machine gun from Die Hard") and held the lobby guards hostage.
The man contacted two associates already inside the museum, who proceeded to draw pistols (this was in pre-9/11 Sweden, where metal detectors weren't standard issue in every semi-official public place) and snatch up a Rembrandt and two Renoirs, three paintings with a combined value of about $30 million. The two men met the third in the lobby, and the trio ran outside to a waiting speedboat to make their stunning getaway, because apparently nobody saw an issue with building a museum directly on the water (the museum was built in the mid-19th century, back when people used boats to steal things all the time, so it's even less excusable).
Police and emergency crews, distracted by the dual car firebombings, failed to notice the commotion at the museum in time to stop them, but the thieves scattered nails around the museum entrance to thwart any oncoming police cars just in case. Altogether, their departure ranks third behind jet pack and trained motorcycle bear as the most awesome way to flee a crime scene.
The police later found the boat abandoned in a lake in southern Stockholm, but it took several more years before the paintings were all finally recovered. Over a dozen criminals and shady art dealers were ultimately thrown in jail for their part in the heist, presumably by an enraged Andy Garcia.
But, honestly, who could blame them? It's that hair. You just have to own it.
#4. Thieves Dig into a Stadium's Concrete Vault ... During a Justin Bieber Concert
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This past May at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, thousands of teenage girls gathered to watch Justin Bieber style his hair like a Lilith Fair headliner and do whatever it is that he does to hypnotize them into giving him their parents' money. However, when it came time for the stadium managers to count the fat stacks of cheddar they'd raked in over the weekend, they found the cash room totally empty, except for some scattered chunks of debris that had fallen from the ceiling, as if God had looked down upon the sea of Beliebers and cried tears of concrete and plaster dust.
Via NY Daily News
"Baby, baby, baby, nooooooo!"
A group of enterprising thieves had somehow managed to chisel through 2 feet of reinforced concrete, lower themselves into the vault room in the middle of a stadium packed with hundreds of security guards, dozens of cameras, and thousands of potential witnesses, and make off with almost a half-million dollars in Krugerrands, or pirate treasure, or whatever they use for money in South Africa.
Investigators believe the break-in was pulled off by a small group of people who had obtained fake security certificates to gain access to the backstage areas of the stadium, which FNB itself admits is relatively easy to do. For each event, they hire about 50 extra security guards in addition to their regular staff, and evidently all you need in order to be eligible for one of those freelance slots is one of these embarrassingly easy to forge certificates and a shirt that doesn't have any bloodstains on it.
He's clearly security. You can tell by his official security shirt.
So, a handful of people infiltrated the stadium's laid-back secondary employee screening process just prior to the concert and were able to cordon off the area above the cash room without anybody thinking anything was amiss -- if one person is where they aren't supposed to be, that raises suspicion, but if a group of people are standing around someplace, you assume they know what they're doing. Either that, or the glare of the arena lights off of the Biebs' golden gloves was so powerful that it blinded the regular staff members to the half-dozen burglars jackhammering through the floor and boot-clicking down to the parking lot with armfuls of stolen money.