antwerp heist
A diamond is displayed at the certification level at the HRD Antwerp Institute of Gemmology at the Antwerp World Diamond Centre March 9, 2015. Reuters/Yves Herman

Antwerp Diamond Heist

The Antwerp Diamond Centre raid is one of the largest diamond heists in history. More than $100 million worth of gold, diamonds and jewellery were stolen. Leonardo Notarbartolo was the leader of the gang, known as 'La Scuola di Torino,' who orchestrated the heist on 15 and 16 February, 2003. Notarbartolo posed as an Italian diamond merchant when he rented an office in the diamond centre two years before the robbery. He had 24-hour access to the building and his own safe deposit box located within the vault. Thieves plundered 123 out of the 160 security boxes.The diamonds were never recovered. Notarbartolo was sentenced to 10 years in jail and has since been released on parole. In an interview with Wired magazine he said a diamond merchant hired them for the heist as part of an insurance fraud and claimed they stole approximately €18 million ($20 million) worth of loot.

Knightsbridge Security Deposit

The Knightsbridge Security Deposit robbery was one of the largest bank robberies in history. It was led by Valerio Viccei to fund his playboy lifestyle. Him and his accomplice entered the centre pretending to want to rent one of the safety deposit boxes then threatened the manager and security guards with handguns. They then broke open the safe deposit boxes and made up off with loot worth £60m. Viccei was later arrested when he returned to the UK to pick up his favourite Ferrari. He was sentenced to 22 years on the Isle of Wight before being deported to Italy to serve the rest of his sentence. He was shot dead in 2000 during a day release from prison when gunfire broke out between him and police. Two autobiographies were published on his life entitled Too Fast to Live (1992) and Live by the Gun, Die by the Gun, (2004).

millennium dome
CCTV footage from November 2000 showing one of the four men involved in an attempted £200 million diamond heist at London's Millennium Dome, attacking the display case housing Millennium Star diamond. Dome, including one of the world's largest gems the Millennium Star. Reuters

Millennium Dome Raid

The Millennium Dome raid was foiled on 7 November 2000 by police who had the gang members under surveillance for previous armoured robberies. The six men were caught trying to ram-raid the De Beers diamond exhibition and make off with the Millennium Star - a 203 carat diamond worth £200m and the rest of the diamond collection. They even had a speed boat at the ready. If the heist had succeeded it would have been the biggest robbery in history at the time. All the suspects except Terry Milman who died of cancer before the trial were jailed between four and 18 years on charges of conspiracy to steal and conspiring to rob. The suspects were Lee Wenham, Raymond Beston, William Cockram, Aldo Ciarrocchi, Robert Adams and Kevin Meredith.

millennium dome
The Millennium Dome December 31, 2000. Reuters

Tonbridge Securitas Raid

The Tonbridge securitas depot raid was the largest cash robbery in Britain that happened in 2006. Colin Dixon, the manager of depot and his wife were kidnapped at gunpoint and locked in money cages while the robbers made off with £53m. The six gang members were sentenced to a total of 156 years of imprisonment. Around 100 police officers assisted the inquirty and within two weeks recovered equipment and £21m in cash.

Undated handout photo released by Kent Police shows some of the cash recovered from the robbery of a Securitas depot in Tonbridge
An undated handout photo released by Kent Police on March 8, 2006 shows some of the cash recovered from the robbery of a Securitas depot in Tonbridge. REUTERS

French Bank Vault Tunnelers

In 2010 Paris robbers, 'The Termites', tunnelled underground to reach a Credit Lyonnais branch on the city's Avenue de L'Opera, near The Louvre, and plundered 200 vaults - known as France's 'crime of the century'. A security guard was tied up and was warned he would be shot if he moved. By the time he managed to break free the thieves had gone and made off with an estimated £22m in cash and jewellery. The bank had been closed for construction work. The thieves had also used pickaxes and a flame thrower to break through the thick walls to the vaults.

Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum

Two thieves dressed as Boston police officers entered the museum in Boston and stole 13 pieces of art while the rest of the city celebrated St Patrick's Day. The $500m stolen artworks included a Rembrandt, Manet and Degas. Interestingly empty frames still hang in the place where the paintings were once located to pay homage to the missing artworks in the hope they will be returned one day.

Great Train Robbery

Ronnie Biggs
A hat sits on the coffin of Ronnie Biggs as it is carried into Golders Green Crematorium in north London January 3, 2014. Biggs, a small-time British criminal who became a celebrity during a life on the run after his role in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, died in December aged 84. Reuters/Toby Melville

The Great Train Robbery in 1963 involved British criminal Ronnie Biggs who died last December. Him and 14 other members of the gang stole £2.3m (equivalent to £40m today), from a post office train from Glasgow to London on 8 August, 1963. The bulk of the money was never recovered but they left evidence leading to their arrests after they hid at Leatherslade Farm. The train driver Jack Mills was struck over the head during the robbery, which ultimately ended his career. The ringleaders were jailed for 30 years. Biggs managed to escape from Wandsworth Prison in 1965 and spent time abroad. In 2001 he returned to the UK due to ill health and was sent back to prison. He was released on compassionate ground in 2009 after catching pneumonia.

Brazil's Banco Central - 2005

Brazilian robbers tunnelled into Banco Central in 2005 and stole £36m ($65m) that became known as the country's biggest bank heist. The thieves dug a 656ft tunnel into the bank from a nearby farmhouse in Fortaleza despite neighbours noticing van loads of building materials being hauled away on a daily basis. The robbery took place over the weekend but it was not until Monday the theft was discovered because the bank was closed.