One of the Biggest Bank Robberies in U.S. History Inspired a Famous Gangster Movie

Though hardly anyone gets away with robbing a bank, large-scale heists and robberies are still pretty exciting. It’s easy to see how one of the most famous U.S. robberies could inspire a famous gangster movie (page 9). Read on for a look at some of the biggest robberies to take place in the United States.

1. The Loomis Fargo robbery of 1997

David Ghantt bank robber

They even made a movie called Masterminds about the robbery. | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

David Ghantt, along with girlfriend Kelly Campbell, robbed $17.3 million from Loomis Fargo in 1997. Ghantt was working as a Loomis Fargo security when he committed the robbery, and Campbell had been a former employee as well. Ghantt was supposed to drive the getaway van to Campbell in northwest Charlotte to hand the cash off and then quickly proceed to leave the country. According to The Charlotte Observer, they got caught when the FBI traced one of their incriminating phone calls.

Next: One of the largest robberies in American history

2. A family of robbers

Amil Dinsio and his brother James

The family robbed more than one bank. | Inside the Vault by Amil Dinsio via Facebook

On March 24, 1972, Amill Dinsio, group of his family members, and two alarm experts robbed the United California Bank in Laguna Niguel, California. The group made off with $30 million. They would have gotten away with it save for the fact that they had committed a similar crime in Ohio just a few months prior. When authorities realized the two robberies were linked, they checked transportation records and saw the group had traveled to both locations together, reports World Atlas.

Next: America’s first bank robbery

3. The Bank of Pennsylvania robbery

Carpenters' Hall philadelphia

He ended up being pardoned. | New York Public Library/Wikimedia Commons

This robbery dates all the way back to 1798. Isaac Davis and an accomplice broke into Philadelphia’s Carpenter’s Hall (at the time, several banks were located here). They made out with over $162,000. However, after the robbery Davis went ahead and deposited the cash he’d stolen back into the bank he stole it from. “He was questioned, gave a full confession, returned the money, and was pardoned,” says The Clever.

Next: A guard working at the building organized this famous robbery. 

4. The Sentry Armored Courier robbery

Christos Potamitis robbery

The robbers got away with $11 million. | CC BY Image courtesy of University of Virginia Law Library

In 1982, a 25-year-old man named Cristos Potamtsis stole $11 million  from a Sentry Armored Courier in New York, New York. He had been working as a guard for the building at the time. He was arrested two months later while in San Juan on vacation. His partner in crime, 21-year-old George Legaki’s was arrested when voluntarily showed up for questioning, according to World Atlas.

Next: One of the deadliest robberies in American history. 

5. The deadly North Hollywood Bank of America robbery

North Hollywood Shootout

The culprits, Larry Eugene Phillips, Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu. | City of Glendale/Wikimedia Commons

The Clever calls this heist the most violent bank robbery in American history.

“During the multiple-hour robbery and ensuing police standoff, some 2,000 rounds of ammunition were fired by both the armored suspects and the LAPD. Both perpetrators died, a dozen police offers were wounded, and eight civilians were also injured during the melee,” reads the publication.

Next: This group took from the rich and gave to the poor. 

6. The Los Macheteros robbery

Victor Gerena

Victor Gerena worked for the company and had ties with Los Macheteros. | FBI

Back in 1983, a group of guerrilla soldiers known as Los Macheteros robbed a Wells Fargo in a small Connecticut city. The group made off with over seven million dollars, which, today, would be worth about $17 million today, according to The Clever. Los Macheteros sent a great deal of the money to help poor communities in Puerto Rico. The rest of it they hid in Cuba and various drop sites around Puerto Rico and America. The FBI was only able to recover about $80,000.

Next: The FBI was able to link this robbery to another one like it to catch the suspects. 

7. The Mahattan Company robbery

The Manhattan Company

Several people were arrested for the crime. | Library of Congress

In 1935, John Philipp Spanos stole $1.5 million from the Manhattan Company. At the time, FBI Director J Edgar Hoover was able to link this robbery to another international robbery ring that was based out of the Southern France, according to World Atlas. Along with Spanos, five were arrested in July of 1936 and four more were arrested between then and December 1939.

Next: This mastermind lived fast and loose. 

8. The Manhattan Savings Institution robbery

George Leslie and Fredericka Mendelbaum accomplice bank robbery

Leslie and his accomplices would practice for hours before a heist. | Valerian Gribayedoff/Wikimedia Commons

In 1878, George Leslie orchestrated the biggest robbery in the United States at the time. He got away with nearly $2.5 million worth of cash, stocks, and bonds. He ended up being murdered by one of his accomplices for having an affair with the killer’s wife just months after the robbery took place.

Next: This robbery took place at John F. Kennedy International Airport. 

9. The Lufthansa heist


Goodfellas was based on the robbery. | Warner Bros.

The Lufthansa heist was a robbery that took place at John F. Kennedy International Airport. It took place on December 11, 1978. The reported mastermind, Jimmy Burke, made off with an estimated $5 million in cash and $875,000 in jewelry. At the time, it was the largest cash robbery ever committed. If this sounds at all familiar to you, you’ve probably seen the movie Goodfellas, which uses this robbery as one of its main plot points.

Next: Butch Cassidy’s first ever robbery

10. The infamous Butch Cassidy’s first robbery

Butch Cassidy

He committed his first robbery at the age of 23. | Wikimedia Commons

The famous bank robber, Butch Cassidy, committed his first robbery on June 24, 1889 at the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride, Colorado. He walked into the bank, pointed a gun at the teller, and made off with sacks filled with over $20,000, according to The Clever.

Next: This building was robbed by a gang of 11 members. 

11. The Brinks Building robbery

Brinks Building robbery

The FBI later found the money bags dumped. | FBI

On January 17, 1950, the Brinks Building in Boston Massachusetts was robbed of $2.8 million. The crime was committed by a gang that consisted of 11 members and was lead by Joseph “Big Joe” McGinnis.

“The majority of the gang was arrested five days before the statute of limitations ran out,” reports World Atlas. “Eight of them received maximum life sentences, all were paroled in 1971 except for McGinnis who had died in prison. Only $58,000 of the $2.7 Million was ever recovered.”

Next: This man worked at the bank and handcuffed his coworkers to steal millions of dollars. 

12. The 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery

Side View Armoured Armored Car Parked on Street Outside Building

The culprit was a driver for the company. | qingwa/iStock/Getty Images

Another robbery occurred at a Loomis Fargo in 1997. Philip Noel Johnson was an armored car driver for the bank when he overpowered two of his coworkers and left them handcuffed while he proceeded to steal $18.8 million. He was caught when a U.S. customs Agent found Johnson’s answers to her questions to be suspicious. When he was arrested, customs found multiple passports on him and he received 25 years in prison, according to World Atlas.

Next: A group of friends stole $18.9 million together. 

13. The Dunbar Armored Car robbery

Dunbar Bank Armored Car

Six friends robbed the depot. | SusanLesch/Wikimedia Commons

On September 12, 1997, Allen Pace and five of his childhood best friends robbed $18.9 million from The Dunbar Armored Car depot. Pace had been working as the regional safety inspector for Dunbar at the time. The group of friends would have gotten away with it had one of them not paid a real estate associate with a stack of bills that was bound in its original binds. The associate went to the police and Pace was convicted and sentenced to 24 years in prison, reports World Atlas.

Next: These robbers worked with the mafia to pull of their heists. 

14. The Pierre Hotel robbery

The Pierre Hotel

The massive heist broke records. | Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons

Guinness World Records named this robbery the “most successful hotel robbery.” It was orchestrated by Samuel Nalo and Robert Comfort. The two pocketed $27 million. According to World Atlas, the two worked closely withe mafia family to pull off their various robberies. “The only survivor of the heist is Nick ‘The Cat’ Sacco, who is currently imprisoned for another matter entirely,” reads the publication.

Next: This group couldn’t figure out how to divide up the money afterwards. 

15. The Manhattan Savings Institution robbery

Jimmy Hope

Jimmy Hope was one of many accomplices. | Valerian Gribayedoff/Wikimedia Commons

Back in 1878, mastermind George Leonidas Leslie (a former architect) along with Jimmy Hope, Samuel Perris, and other robbed the Manhattan Savings Institution. They made off with $2.5 million (that would be $63.4 million today), including $12,000 in cash.

“Leslie’s gang slowly fell apart due to issues with dividing up the money they stole. Not long after the Manhattan Savings institution robbery, the police arrested most of his gang, and brought them in on robbery charges,” reports Wikipedia.

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