5 Real Bank Heists Ripped Right Out of the Movies

5 Real Bank Heists Ripped Right Out of the Movies

Bank heists in the movies are generally awesome but they also seem improbable, at best. Secret tunnels? Manipulating the police? Burning cars? Commando gear?

Come on, this crap doesn't happen in real life!

Does it?

Norwegians Go Commando on the NOKAS Cash Center

Monday, April 2004. If you were a cop in Stavenger, a small town in Norway, your first hint that it might not be a normal day was probably the burning car blocking your way to the parking garage.

"Oh, it's going to be one of THOSE days."

And if you were working at the handling center for NOKAS, the central cash processing system for Norway's banks, your first hint was the eleven guys piling out of vans in black body armor and goggles toting machine guns.

Despite having the classic setup of a heist gone wrong, the thieves still managed to get away and kill a police officer in the process. Cop killing isn't a common occurrence in Norway meaning that, when caught, the robbers were going get the closest thing to prison rape that the Norwegian judicial system could legally administer. Then later, of course, literal prison rape.

The Take:

65 million Norwegian kroner, about $10 million dollars.

The Takedown:

The Norwegian judicial system doesn't dick around, even if their prison guards are shit scared of the perps. The men involved, thirteen in all, were captured and convicted in March 2006 in a case that cost more to prosecute (160 million kroner) as what the guys actually stole. They were sentenced to a total of 181 years in prison, and then, in June 2007, the court decided that wasn't enough; so they went back and made the sentences tougher. The moral of the story? Don't fuck with Norwegians.

Germans Pull a Fast One with Hostages

June, 1995. Four masked men burst into a Berlin bank with pistols and shotguns, and took sixteen hostages. Half an hour later, they sent one hostage out with a typewritten note: They wanted a getaway car, a helicopter and 17 million deutchemarks (about $12.2 million in 1995 dollars). After negotiations, 5 million marks were delivered at 9:30pm as a down payment. Then? Nothing.

Finally, at around 4am, a commando team heroically burst in, heroically surveyed the now-empty room, and heroically uttered, "Oh, fuck me."

Turns out the robbers weren't counting on that getaway car and helicopter they demanded. Instead, they dug a 384-foot tunnel to the vault, ransacked it and had split hours earlier. Just to add insult to injury, when the police followed the tunnel, they found it ended in a garage... inside the area the police had cordoned off, where they were examining every vehicle coming and going. Just another testament to the superior police forces of Western Germany: This never would have happened if the Stasi were still around.

The Take:

All told, around 12 million marks (approximately $10 million US). Nobody knows for sure because the thieves raided safety deposit boxes, so authorities remain uncertain about the contents, which could have been anything from jewels to the much more precious and rare nude photos of Bea Arthur.

"Wait, you want what?"-Cracked Photoshop Department.

The Takedown:

All the men involved were eventually captured and convicted , although most of the money has never been recovered and most of the criminals involved are already out of jail. Somehow, we suspect that money's going to magically turn up at whatever tropical island nation doesn't have an extradition treaty with Germany.

Swedes Re-Enact "Die Hard" at the Local Post Office

In January 2008, several Swedish men stormed a mail processing center in Gotenberg. The heist itself was pretty undramatic: They walked in, waved around a bunch of rifles and got the employees to easily surrender.

The real fun is in the getaway, which brings new meaning to the phrase "cover your ass." They planted five "suspicious devices," helpfully spray-painted "BOMB" in English at local police stations and around the post office itself.


They set fire to several cars along the escape route. And if THAT wasn't enough, they also left behind a bunch of nice presents for anybody chasing them, in the form of road spikes.

In the resulting chaos they triggered, they got away easily. Hans Gruber must be envious.

The Take:

Nothing, as far as we know. According to the Gotenberg police, nothing of any value was stolen from the processing center, as if they were so caught up in the excitement surrounding their brilliant "bomb" idea they forgot to actually rob anything.

The Takedown:

The police apparently have no suspects and are baffled at the motive. We suspect somebody just didn't feel like waiting for their package from Amazon.com to get through the Swedish postal system.

Florist Digs Up More Than Flowers in Brazil

Everyone liked Paulo Sergio de Souza. Nice guy, smiled at everybody, always cheerful, had lots of pretty plants in his florist shop. Of course, he was probably happy because he was stealing millions right under everyone's noses.

Over the course of three months, Souza and his gang dug a tunnel more than 200 feet long right underneath the branch of Brazil's Central Bank, all the time using the florist's shop as a front to truck away the soil. On August 6th, they slammed some energy drinks and busted through the main vault's central floor, swiping five containers of 50-real notes (nearly 3.5 tons of cash).

"When we get to the surface, the first guy who makes a joke about flowers sprouting up gets shot in the face."

They swiped the dignity and professional reputation of Brazil's most important monetary authority as a nice bonus. You see, the bank had decided that the theft risks were so minimal they didn't bother to insure these containers. The crooks pulled this off on a weekend so nobody noticed until that Monday morning. The bills were used, so they were non-sequential and there was no way of tracking the money. Oh, and the bank's security cameras weren't even hooked up to a VCR, so a) they had no record of the theft and b) Brazil has the dumbest banks on the planet. The only line of defense that might have actually worked were the motion detectors in the vault, which the crooks managed to avoid setting off.

The Take:

$164 million in Brazilian reals, $78 million US.

The Takedown:

Pretty much immediately after the robbery was finished, it all went to hell. Several of the suspects have been kidnapped, ransomed and then killed, some have been arrested, and still others remain at large. Along with most of the money: only $9 million of it has ever been recovered. Something tells us Sergio is still out there, and still smilin'.

The Inner Tube Bandit

Twelve guys showed up across the street of the Bank of America in Monroe, WA, on October 1st. They'd answered a Craigslist ad for road contractors, and were told to show up in very specific attire: goggles, respirator masks, yellow safety vests and a blue workshirt. While they were standing around, wondering where the boss was, a thirteenth guy in the same outfit, lugging a pump sprayer, was walking into the bank across the street, just behind the security guard unloading the armored truck. Little did the guard know that he was about to reenact The Thomas Crown Affair.

Sure, you might think he was just spraying for roaches, but you don't generally do that with mace. The thief hosed down the guard and grabbed a bag of cash... and here's where it gets fun.

The crook sprinted 100 yards past his decoys to a creek that feeds into the Skykomish River, peeling off his disguise and leaving twelve very confused contractors in his wake. Then he leapt into the creek with his getaway vehicle: an inner tube.


Police recovered the inner tube about 200 yards from where he entered the water and are pretty sure he had an accomplice waiting in a boat. What they didn't recover was any sense of dignity after getting clowned by a guy who watched a Pierce Brosnan movie one too many times. They'll be better at keeping an eye out next time if someone ever tries to rob the bank disguised as an eccentric hit man with a mustache. Or tries to ski down an avalanche, or something. Or some joke about some other shitty Pierce Brosnan movie.

The Take:

Police aren't disclosing how much was stolen, but it probably covered the cost of the ad.

The Takedown:

So far, no reported leads or suspects. But, hey, they've got the world's first inner tube used in a bank robbery! Maybe they could sell it on Craigslist!

For more people who used their balls to get ahead, check out The 7 Ballsiest Sports Cheats Ever or The 5 Ballsiest Con Artists of All Time. And be sure to check out Cracked.com's Top Picks to see what we're looking at instead of working.

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