Little Bits of History

Heading for the Hills in Minnesota

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 17, 2010

Great Brinks Robbery

January 17, 1950: The Great Brinks Robbery, once billed as the “crime of the century” takes place. The Brinks Building in Boston, Massachusetts was robbed of $1,218,211.19 in cash and over $1.5 million in checks, money orders, and other securities.

In preparation for the great break in, Joseph “Specs” O’Keefe and Stanley “Gus” Gusciora picked the outer lock with an ice pick and the inner door with a piece of plastic and entered the depot. Once inside, they temporarily removed each of the cylinders from the five locks so that a locksmith could make keys for them.

After recruiting seven more gang members, the team of criminals bided their time. They studied the layout, schedules, and even the alarm system. The plan took two years to complete and they attempted the burglary six times prior to actually pulling it off.

Dressed in similar clothing to the Brinks uniform but with chauffeur’s caps, rubber Halloween masks, gloves and rubber soled shoes, they entered the building at 6:55 PM using the keys they had made previously. They bound and gagged five Brinks employees, scooped up all the available money, and left at 7:30 PM leaving behind only minimal clues. The rope and chauffeur’s caps were all the police had to go on.

O’Keefe and Gusciora were arrested in Pennsylvania later that year for burglary. Informers inside described hearing them demand money from their cohorts. On January 12, 1956 the FBI arrested six of the gang for the burglary and on May 16, they caught the rest of them. All were convicted and received life sentences except for O’Keefe. He was released in 1960 after serving four years. Most of the money was never recovered and is said to be cached in the hills just north of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

“We continue to be exasperated by the view, apparently gaining momentum in certain circles, that armed robbery is okay as long as nobody gets hurt! The proper solution to armed robbery is a dead robber, on the scene.” – Jeff Cooper

“We’ve basically built doors now for 4,000 years and still have burglaries.” – Johannes Ullrich

“When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.” – Norm Crosby

“It’s strange that men should take up crime when there are so many legal ways to be dishonest.” – unknown

Also on this day, in 1929 Popeye made his cartoon debut.