Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Dunbar Armored Robbery

The Dunbar Armored robbery is the largest cash robbery in the United States. It occurred in 1997 at the Dunbar Armored facility at 550 S Hill Street, Los Angeles, California. The thieves made off with $18.9 million.
The robbery was masterminded by Allen Pace, who worked for Dunbar as a regional safety inspector. Pace had time to photograph the company's Los Angeles armored car depot. He recruited five of his childhood friends, and on the night of September 13, 1997, Pace used his keys to gain admittance to the facility. Once inside, they waited within the staff cafeteria, ambushing the guards one by one.
Pace knew that on Friday nights the vault was open due to the large quantities of money being moved. With Pace leading the way the armed robbers advanced on the vault area, tied up several more employees and, using bolt cutters, broke the padlocks on metal cages containing the depot's cash. In half an hour, the robbers had loaded millions of dollars into a waiting U-Haul.
Investigators searching the Dunbar loading dock area after the robbery found a plastic taillight lens that did not belong to company vehicles. The FBI forensics lab in Washington was able to match the lens to those used on 14-foot-long U-Haul trucks.
But the clue was of little value until an informant identified Eugene Lamar Hill Jr., 34, of Bellflower, as a suspect in the robbery two years later. Detectives determined that Hill had rented a 14-foot U-Haul truck a day before the heist and had returned it a day later. When he was arrested, Hill had a stack of bills bearing the same money wrappers as those taken in the Dunbar robbery. Hill confessed and led authorities to the other suspects.

After his arrest, Hill pled guilty and fingered his accomplices. All have been convicted, sentenced to federal prison for terms ranging from eight to 17 years, and ordered to pay $18.9 million in restitution.
Allen Pace was convicted of masterminding the robbery and was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison.

Since cracking the case, a task force of FBI and IRS agents and Los Angeles police detectives has recovered about $5 million worth of the loot, mostly in the form of homes, cars and other valuables purchased by the bandits. "Unfortunately, despite their extraordinary efforts, over $10 million is still unaccounted for," said U.S. Atty. Alejandro N. Mayorkas.

The rest of the stolen money is believed to have been squandered by the robbers at gambling tables in Las Vegas or burned by them because many bills were sequentially numbered and could be easily traced.