The United Kingdom’s Largest Train Heist
When you think of train robberies, your mind usually goes to the old west. The late 1800’s with desperados on horseback chasing down the iron horse and sticking up the passengers or dynamiting the safe.
However, one of the most lucrative and famous train robberies in history happened in a different time and place. The Great Train Robbery occurred in pastoral England in the 1960’s.
On August 8, 1963, the Royal Mail train was heading south from Glasgow, Scotland to London to deliver, amongst other things, a large sum of cash. A gang of at least 16 perps had rigged the signal system to stop the train at the Bridego Railway Bridge. Members of the crew boarded, and after knocking the engineer out cold with a metal pipe, they proceeded to steal 2.6 million British Pounds in cash.
After stopping and taking over the train, one member of the crew, a retired train operator, drove the train to a prearranged point to unload the money. After unloading the money onto trucks, the perps drove to an abandoned farm to wait out the police hunt.
While waiting for the police search to slacken, some of the perps played a game of monopoly, using the proceeds of the robbery as the bank. In a glaring lack of judgment, they left the monopoly board behind. Apparently, a monopoly board is a good surface to develop latent prints, because when the police found the abandoned hideout, they recovered several fingerprints from the board. That information, combined with a tip from a confidential informant, gave investigators several names to start with.
After diligent investigation, Metropolitan Police Detectives were able to identify most of the perps. They determined that there was a total of 18 individuals involved. They identified and captured 13 perps, some of whom had prior arrests for train robberies.
In a sensational trial in 1964, 11 of the defendants were found guilty. Most received sentences ranging from 25 to 30 years. The majority of the money was never recovered.
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