Home » From Delhi’s Bhogal to RBI Train Robbery and Belgium Diamond Theft, Here Are Some of the Most Outrageous Heists
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From Delhi’s Bhogal to RBI Train Robbery and Belgium Diamond Theft, Here Are Some of the Most Outrageous Heists

From underground tunnels in a bank robbery to robbing cash being transported by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in a train, India has seen a number of crimes that challenge one’s imagination.

The police are still on the lookout for thieves who stole jewels worth around Rs 20-25 crore from a jewellery showroom in South Delhi’s Bhogal area. 

As is common in such cases, ‘filmy’ is a buzzword in conversations around the sensational crime. But then films are often inspired from real-life incidents. 

In the Bhogal heist, robbers are understood to have entered the showroom from the roof of a four-storied-building. After disabling the CCTV cameras, they descended to the level that housed the strongroom and entered it by making a hole in the wall. This is how they stole jewels from inside the strongroom and on the display at the showroom, estimated to be worth around Rs 20-25 crores. 

While the Bhogal heist has not been cracked, two persons have been detained in Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur, according to PTI. 

Citing officials, PTO reported that at least three persons were involved in the heist. 

While this is the most sensational crime in Delhi in the recent past, India is no stranger to outrageous robberies. From underground tunnels in a bank robbery to robbing cash being transported by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in a train, the country has seen a number of crimes that challenge one’s imagination. 

Outside of India, the heists have even involved helicopters and breaking through dozens of cameras and security layers — as if in a Mission Impossible or a James Bond film. But, again, the reality is often stranger than fiction. 

Here we are listing some of the most outrageous heists carried out in India and abroad. 

1. The RBI train robbery 

In 2016, robbers targeted a train that was transporting around Rs 340 crore in cash of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Most of the notes were soiled but usable notes.

The train was Salem-Chennai Express and the heist was discovered when the train reached its destination had one of the vents of the coach containing boxes of cash open. This led to the discovery that the coach has been broken into. 

While there was cash of around Rs 340 crore in the coach, only around Rs 5 crore were stolen. The robbers entered through the roof of the coach.

It was found during the investigation that the heist was carried out not long after the train departed as it was during the unelectrified track that such a heist through the roof could be carried out. 

“Five members of the gang travelled on the roof of the train that night and as the express was passing through the Salem-Vriddhachalam un-electrified section they drilled a hole on the roof between Chinnasalem and Vriddhachalam stations, reported The Times of India (ToI). 

“Two of them entered the parcel van through the hole, broke open the wooden boxes and took cash bundles wrapping them in their lungis. As the train reached Vriddhachalam station, the bundles were given to other gang members on the ground near tracks. Later all escaped, said investigators in 2018 in a press release after two were arrested in the case. 

2. Rs 100 crore heist at Punjab National Bank

In 2014, thieves broke into a Punjab National Bank (PNB) branch at Sonepat, Haryana and carried out a 100-crore heist. 

The thieves broke into a bank to access the lockers through a tunnel and stole the people’s valuables. 

The India Today at the time reported that four thieves dug a 125-feet tunnel at a depth of seven feet below the bank. From that tunnel, they accessed the locker room and emptied 89 lockers. 

Later, two thieves were caught but the stolen goods were not recovered. 

3. Ludhiana bank heist

In 1987, Rs 5.7 crore were looted from a bank in Punjab’s Ludhiana. It was the biggest bank robbery in the country at the time. 

The heist was also linked to the Khalistan movement, which was raging in Punjab at the time. The Khalistan movement seeks to carve out a nation for Sikhs out of India called Khalistan. The movement waged a bloody insurgency for decades. It was only in the 1990s that the insurgency ebbed.  

Later, 13 persons were convicted and sentenced in the case to a 10-year-sentence but nine were eventually acquitted by the Supreme Court. Two cnvicts completled their terms without an appeal and two died. 

“Sikh Students Federation ex-president Daljit Singh Bittu and his associate Gursharan Singh Gama were held guilty by the TADA Special Judge, Ludhiana, on November 20, 2012. The two were allegedly working with ‘Gen’ Labh Singh of the Khalistan Commando Force. The TADA court said it had been clearly established that the robbery was committed ‘with the intention to either overawe the government or strike terror in a section of people’, reported The Tribune, adding that the robbery was carried out without a single shot being fired. 

4. Belgium’s diamond heist

In 2003, Belgium witnessed a heist that remains largely unsolved even today. 

In a stuff of films, diamonds and gold worth $100 million were stolen from the Antwerp World Diamond Center by evading dozens of cameras and layers of security.

The plan was carried out over months and a rented apartment in the adjacent building was central to the crime. 

The thieves evaded 63 cameras and 10 layers of security to access the site two levels below the ground to steal the jewels, according to Spy Scape, an espionage-centric media company. Many of the jewels have not been recovered. 

Only one person has been convicted in the case and most of the jewels have not been recovered. 

5. Stockholm helicopter robbery

In 2019, Sweden’s capital Stockholm witnessed an outrageous robbery through a helicopter. 

Robbers landed on the roof of a cash depot in a helicopter and made their way into the building to steal an undisclosed amount of money. 

It was not immediately clear how much money was stolen but it was reported that several bags full of cash were stuffed in the helicopter. The entire operation was over in 20 minutes. The thieves escaped in helicopters and the police could not use their choppers as suspected bombs had been placed in the hangars beforehand. 

Later, 10 men were charged with stealing $5.3 million in cash. The money was never recovered. 

“Thieves smashed in with sledgehammers, blew out security doors with explosives and raided vaults flush with cash…Ten men were charged in the $5.3m robbery. None were sentenced to more than seven years and the money was never recovered,” reported Spy Scape. 

The police were approaching the site of the crime shortly after the helicopter landed but could do little as spikes had been laid beforehand to burst their cars’ tyres.

“Police were at the scene within minutes but were powerless to stop the robbers from pulling off their daring heist. Spikes had been spread near the money depot to stop police cars from approaching it,” reported DW.

Source: Outlook India