Gang Spend Months Digging Tunnel In ‘Biggest Bank Robbery Ever’

Policia Civil Sao Paoulo

You’ve heard of Ocean’s Eleven. Meet Tunnels 16.

An old-school bank heist has been foiled in Sao Paulo after Brazilian police uncovered an elaborate 550-yard-long underground tunnel leading from the robber’s criminal HQ to a vault containing £240 million.

So far, 16 members of the bank-robbing gang responsible for digging their way through this underground labyrinth have been arrested for planning what local media is saying would have been ‘the biggest bank robbery ever’.

Policia Civil Sao Paoulo

The tunnel led from a rented house where the gang had been holed up as they planned their heist and burrowed straight into the vault.

Police say it was propped up with wooden planks and iron bar scaffolding, the robbers’ tools were left behind alongside lights which lead the way inside the tunnel.

Investigators had been monitoring the activity of those involved for months and staked out the tunnel until it was complete when they made the arrests.

Policia Civil Sao Paoulo

The excavation of the huge tunnel began four months ago and was completed on Wednesday, forcing investigators to move in on the group they had been monitoring.

According to RT, the lead investigator of the case Fábio Pinheiro Lopes said:

The gang’s investment was in the range of 4 million real [£958,808].

Each of the participants put in 200,000 real [£47,940] and their estimate was to take 1 billion real [£240million].

It would be the biggest assault in the world.

Lopes said while the gang didn’t gain access to the safe, they did make it into the shell of the vault. Those arrested were reportedly detained in the north of the city, where they allegedly manufactured the tools for their excavation.

The gang is known to police, reports, and some of the members were believed to be involved in the robbery of the Central Bank of Fortaleza in 2005 and at Itau in Paulista in 2011.

But some of the biggest bank heists in history have occurred closer to home, here in Britain. The second and third largest heists, globally, both occurred in the south-east of England.


Those involved in The Knightsbridge Vault Robbery, in London, in 1987 got away with £73.2 million, when Valerio Viccei, an Italian playboy and career criminal, and his armed accomplices walked out with cash, jewellery, and other valuables.

More recently, in 2006, a Securitas Depot Robbery in Kent yielded £62.6million, and is now known as the largest cash robbery in British history.

A heavily armed gang of criminals kidnapped the branch manager and his family, bound and gagged 14 employees, and forced them to open the cash cages. While most of the perpetrators were caught and convicted, one of the criminals is said to be still living off of the stolen cash in the West Indies.

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Meanwhile, a mysterious heist in Baghdad takes the top spot in the crime stakes, reports the Daily Mail. £212 million was stolen from Dar Es Salaam Bank in 2007.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry believe a pair of guards who worked for an armed militia that was roaming the area engineered the bank robbery of just over a quarter of a billion dollars.