The Most Infamous Heists in History

By Sophia Maddox | June 6, 2024

Tango of Thieves, The Banco Rio Robbery

Throughout history, tales of daring heists have captured our imagination, blending intrigue, audacity, and a touch of glamour. From the meticulously planned to the opportunistically bold, these infamous robberies reveal a fascinating world where cunning and risk collide. Whether it's the Great Train Robbery that stunned Britain in the 1960s, or the audacious theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, these heists are more than just crimes—they are legendary capers that challenge our perceptions of possibility and justice. Join us as we delve into the most notorious heists in history, exploring the masterminds, the methods, and the mysteries that still linger today.

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The robbers demanded the police to give them pizza and they would surrender. AFP via Getty Images

In January 2006, Buenos Aires, Argentina, witnessed a daring heist that would captivate the nation and baffle authorities for years to come: the Banco Rio Robbery. A group of heavily armed robbers, donning masks and disguises, stormed into the Banco Rio branch in the upscale neighborhood of Acassuso. What ensued was a meticulously orchestrated robbery that played out like a Hollywood thriller.

The robbers, numbering around ten, took hostages and quickly gained control of the bank, while others accessed safety deposit boxes and cash reserves. They displayed a brazen disregard for law enforcement, even engaging in friendly banter and sharing mate tea with hostages during the ordeal.

The heist captured the attention of the media and the public, with the robbers earning the nickname "Los Reyes del Tango" (The Kings of Tango) for their smooth and calculated execution. Despite an extensive police response and a nationwide manhunt, the robbers managed to escape with millions of dollars in cash and valuables.

The Banco Rio Robbery remains one of Argentina's most notorious crimes, not only for its audacity but also for the skillful choreography of the thieves, who seemed to dance effortlessly between danger and defiance.

The Los Angeles Cash Heist

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ABC 7 Eyewitness

In February 1997, Los Angeles witnessed a daring and intricately executed cash heist that would go down in history as one of the most audacious robberies the city had ever seen. The mastermind behind the operation was Emil Matasareanu, a former armored car driver turned criminal mastermind. With military precision, Matasareanu and his accomplices ambushed an armored car outside a Bank of America branch, making off with an unprecedented $18.9 million.

What began as a typical armed robbery escalated into a full-scale firefight with police as officers responded to the scene. The robbers, equipped with military-grade weaponry and fortified with body armor, engaged in a fierce exchange of gunfire with law enforcement, unleashing a torrent of bullets on the streets of North Hollywood.

The heist, which unfolded in broad daylight, plunged the city into chaos as law enforcement scrambled to apprehend the perpetrators. Despite the dramatic shootout and the arrest of several suspects, a substantial portion of the stolen cash remains unaccounted for, leaving the Los Angeles cash heist as a tantalizing enigma in the annals of criminal history.