Air France Heist at JFK


Some familiar names clean up at JFK heist. 

On April 8, 1967 several mafia hoods walked out of the Air France cargo terminal at Kennedy Airport quite a bit richer than when they walked in.  There were no guns blazing and no one got hurt.  Its was smooth and efficient, and the end of a well executed, long term plan.  

Robert McMahon worked for Air France.  He knew that the airline flew American currency that had been exchanged in Asia back to the United States.  The money was held overnight in the cargo terminal.  They were building a new safe for valuables, but it wasn’t completed yet.  If a crew could just get in to the secure area, the money was theirs for the taking.  

McMahon reached out to his friend, Lucchese Crime Family associate Henry Hill.  Hill got James Burke and Tommy DeSimone involved.  They needed a plan.  The biggest obstacle was the guard.  Apparently a serious fellow, the guard had the key to he secure room and never let it out of his sight.  No bribe would work on this stickler.    

There was a discussion of kidnapping the upright guard.  Henry Hill had a better idea.  They just needed that key.  Hill set the guard up with a high end escort.  A relationship developed that was closely monitored by the crew.  They managed to steal the key while the guard’s pants were down, literally.  They made a copy and returned the original unbeknownst to the hapless sentry.  

Days later McMahon became aware of an unusually large shipment of money from Asia.  Hill and DeSimone walked in to the cargo area with two empty suitcases, under the ruse that they were looking for lost luggage.  Using their copied key they gained entry to the secure room and started packing.  They walked out early on the morning of April 8th with an estimated $420,000.  No one even knew they had been there. The theft wasn’t noticed until an armored car came to pick up the money the following Monday.  

It was the largest cash theft that had taken place in the United States.  The same crew would break that record years later with the Lufthansa heist.  No one was ever prosecuted for the crime.   


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