The Perfect Crime – Almost
January 17th 1950 Boston Massachusetts, it’s the end of a busy work day at the headquarters of the leading security company in the United States, Brinks.
The company was often hired to deliver pay checks, don’t forget, we are dealing with a time before computers, when people were paid weekly in cash.
On this fateful evening, five Brinks employees are hard at work counting cash, when seven men, all wearing
Halloween masks, navy pea coats and chauffeurs caps, suddenly burst into the counting room.
The robbers bound and gag the workers and begin grabbing bags of cash from the vault.
The whole robbery takes about twenty minutes. Leaving the terrified employees tied up, the robbers flee the scene with over 2.5 million dollars
This was the largest armed robbery in American history at the time, it was the equivalent of more than 30 million dollars in today’s money
Once the crooks are gone, one of the employees frees himself and sets off the alarm.
Investigators conduct a thorough search of the crime scene hoping to unearth any clues that will reveal the identity of the robbers, but it seems that the thieves have covered all their tracks.
But they made one potentially fatal mistake, and that is a chauffeur’s cap was found dropped at the scene.
Police visit every hat maker in the city, trying to get a lead on who might have purchased it, but it was all to no avail, leaving some investigators to conclude that far from being dropped by accident the hat may have been left deliberately for some reason.
Boston Police amass a list of possible suspects, but after five years and no concrete evidence, the investigation reaches a dead end.
The police had a pretty good idea of who did it, but what they couldn’t do was get anybody
to talk about the robbery, and with the statute of limitations standing at 6 years it looked like the thieves were about to get away with the perfect crime.
But then police get a tip that one of their possible suspects has had a falling out with the rest of his gang.
One of the men suspected to have participated in the Brinks robbery was a guy named
James O’Keefe, also known as “Specs“.
He was already in custody for an unrelated crime and the cops see an opportunity to try to get him to confess.
Specs, like everyone else connected to the Brinks case, kept his mouth shut, until the police convinced him that he had been tricked out of his full fair share of the stolen money.
Police convince Specs that his disloyal cohorts are not worth spending life in prison for, especially after they had ripped him off.
Finally, just a few days before the statue of limitations would of run out Specs finally breaks down and says “OK, what do you want to know?”
According to Specs the plot had started a decade earlier with a notorious crook named Tony Pino from Boston. Pino was known as someone who could crack open a safe without breaking a sweat.
Pino had watched the Brinks for months and then one night decided that he was going to get in there, so he jimmied the door and manages to make his way through the entire building unopposed.
In the bowels of the building, Pino finds the counting room. Behind its locked door lies the vault.
Pino unscrewed the entire lock cylinder out of the door and took it to a locksmith he knew and had him make a key. Then he went back to the building and reinstalled the cylinder without anyone realising it.
With the key to the counting room door in his possession, Pino assembles his gang and executes what appears to be the perfect heist, but the robbers greed finally proves to be their downfall.
The evidence provided by Specs O’Keefe is enough to arrest and convict the remaining eight robbers.
Two of them had died by the time that indictments were handed down but the rest were sentenced to various degrees of life in prison
But before investigators could put the case to bed they had to know one thing, why was the chauffeur’s cap left at the scene of the crime?
Specs also solved that mystery, it simply fell off his head, it wasn’t a sign of a master criminal, it was just an accident.
Brink’s Job Facts:
- The robbery took place on the evening of January 17, 1950.
- The Brink’s offices were located in the North Terminal Garage Building in the North End at 169 Prince Street. The building still stands.
- $1,218,211.29 in cash and $1,557,183.83 in checks, money orders and other securities were stolen by the robbers.
- No one was hurt during the commission of the crime.
- Eleven men participated in the robbery but there were hundreds of accessories.
- Only $51,906 of the Brink’s cash was recovered.
- The government spent approximately $29,000,000 to bring the gang to justice.
- Only eight members of the gang were put on trial in 1956. Two had already died and one had turned state’s evidence against the remaining guys.
- All eight defendants pleaded innocent but we know they were guilty. How? They confessed 20 years later.
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