What to know about the  million cash heist in Los Angeles

What to know about the $30 million cash heist in Los Angeles


The heist has triggered rampant speculation among a public long infatuated with daring burglaries and hefty criminal paydays.

Here are some things to know about the recent theft in Los Angeles and the history of such crimes.


L.A. police and the FBI were tight-lipped Friday about any new developments in their joint investigation, but police Cmdr. Elaine Morales told The Los Angeles Times, which broke news of the crime, that thieves were able to breach the money storage facility in the suburban Sylmar neighborhood and then crack into the safe containing the cash.

Media reports identified the facility as a location of GardaWorld, a global cash management and security company. The Canada-based company, which also operates fleets of armored cars, did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Police said officers received a call for service at the facility at 4:30 a.m. Easter Sunday, and aerial footage from KABC-TV showed a large hole on the side of the building that appeared to be boarded up with plywood.


Jim McGuffey, an armored car and physical security expert, called the theft “a shock.” Any such facility should have two alarm systems and a seismic motion detector right on the safe, he said, as well as additional motion sensors throughout the building.

“For that kind of money, you don’t just walk in and walk out with it,” he told AP. “A facility should be protected from the top to the bottom and the sides.”

Randy Sutton, a former police detective in New Jersey and Las Vegas who investigated major crimes and high-end burglaries, said a crime of this magnitude had likely been planned for months or longer and involved numerous people.

“This took a tremendous amount of research and tremendous amount of knowledge on the technical end regarding the circumvention of security systems and surveillance,” he said.

He said much of the cash at a facility like the one operated by GardaWorld has already been in circulation, so unless it comes directly from the U.S. Treasury, the majority of it may not be traceable.

He added that law enforcement has almost certainly started interviewing anyone who worked at GardaWorld or knew anything about its security protocols.

“You can bet that not just current employees of that organization are going to be scrutinized, but prior employees as well,” he said.


Law enforcement officials have not discussed details of the cash that was stolen, but regardless of the denomination of the bills, such a massive amount of cash would be difficult to move and transport.

The weight of $1 million in $100 bills alone is about 22 pounds (10 kilograms), according to testimony from a U.S. Treasury official to Congress. If the cash were in various denominations, like $5s, $10s and $20s, the weight of $1 million in cash could be closer to 250 pounds (115 kilograms), which could bring the overall weight of last weekend’s haul to a whopping 7,500 pounds (3,400 kilograms), or about 3 1/2 tons (3.18 metric tonnes).

Sutton said it’s likely the criminals who pulled of the caper already had a plan in place for how to launder that much money.

“It’s an interesting question: How do you get rid of that amount of cash?” he said. “I know it’s a quandary we’d all like to have, but the reality is these criminals probably had that in their repertoire.”


Although the largest cash heist in the world is believed to be the plundering of the Central Bank of Iraq during the U.S. invasion in 2003, and other large cash heists have been pulled off in Europe and South America, the Los Angeles heist would be among the largest ever in the U.S.

The 1997 armed robbery of nearly $19 million at the Los Angeles Dunbar Armored Co. depot was the largest cash robbery in U.S. history at the time, according to the Los Angeles Times. That caper, during which five armed robbers in black clothing and masks tied up a handful of workers at the depot, was planned with the help of a former employee at the facility. It took years to crack the case, and although all five culprits were caught, most of the cash was never recovered.

Although not a cash heist, nearly two years ago, as much as $100 million in jewels and other valuables were stolen from a Brink’s big rig at a Southern California truck stop. The thieves haven’t been caught.


People have long been obsessed with big-money heists, as evidenced by the key role these criminal jobs play in movies, films and television. A central theme of the 1990 mobster classic “Goodfellas” is the true story of the Lufthansa heist in 1978, when gangsters made off with just under $6 million in cash and jewelry in what was the largest U.S. heist at the time.

The blockbuster 2001 heist film “Ocean’s 11,” which was a remake of a 1960 movie of the same name, also featured an ensemble cast determined to steal $160 million from a Las Vegas casino. That film spawned several sequels that centered on elaborate heists.

A popular heist film set in Los Angeles, 1995’s “Heat,” features a group of elite professional thieves who target armored cars and bank vaults. The film stars Robert DeNiro as an L.A.-based thief and his crew looking to make a final $12 million bank heist while being chased by an L.A. detective played by Al Pacino.

___ Associated Press reporters Stefanie Dazio and Eugene Garcia in California contributed to this report.


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1 thought on “What to know about the $30 million cash heist in Los Angeles”

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