Thursday, Mar. 01, 2007

The Brinks Job, 1950

A gang of 11 men set out on a meticulous 18-month quest to rob the Brinks headquarters in Boston, the home-base of the legendary private security firm. The planning and practice had a military intensity to them; the attention to detail — including the close approximation of the uniform of the Brinks guards — was near genius. It all came off without a hitch: the perfect crime of the century. And the haul was astonishing: more than $1.2 million in cash and $1.5 million in checks and securities, the biggest heist at that time in American history. But while the plan was perfect, the participants proved to be all too human. Even as the authorities spent years trying to figure out who was behind the "great Brinks robbery," the 11 were falling out among themselves. Eventually, someone associated with the mob allegedly hired a hit man to kill Joseph "Specs" O'Keefe, a gangmember who had been grousing that he had been cheated of his proper share of the robbery. At that point, O'Keefe — wounded in the attempted rub-out — decided to talk to the FBI. By 1957, most of the gang had been sentenced to life in prison, except for O'Keefe who got four years. None would account for the bulk of the stolen funds. To this day, no one has found the money.

From the Archive:
The Big Payoff