On January 17, 1950, 11 thieves pulled off a heist that would later become known as “The Brinks Job” or “The Great Brinks Robbery.” The heist took place at 165 Prince Street in Boston, Massachusetts-the Brinks Headquarters. The perpetrators managed to remove 1.2 million dollars worth of cash and 1.5 million dollars worth of checks and securities from the building. It was years before they were caught.
The plan for the Brinks Job was extraordinary. It took the men a year and a half to complete it. Just before 7:30 pm on January 17, 1950, five or six of them entered the building through several locked doors. They were wearing coats, masks and special shoes so their movements would be quiet. They also wore gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints. They managed to sneak right up on the Brinks employees who were moving the day’s take into the safe. The men secured the employees by tying their hands behind their backs with lengths of rope. They also taped their mouths closed. Within minutes, they had moved all of the money and securities into a truck that waited outside. They also stole four revolvers from the Brinks Headquarters.
The only evidence left at the scene was the tape and rope used to secure the Brinks employees. Police began investigating minutes after the thieves left, but they had very little to go on. It would have been the perfect robbery, if the 11 men had not left evidence elsewhere and begun bickering amongst themselves. Police soon found one of the guns that had been stolen and pieces of the truck that had been used in the heist. It turns out that the truck had been stolen from a Ford dealership in the Fenway area the previous November. Police were able to create a rather accurate list of likely suspects, but there was not enough evidence to convict them.
Over the years following the Brinks robbery, the men responsible returned to their lives of crime. They had agreed not to spend the money from the Brinks robbery until the statute of limitations had been reached-six years. Several of them were arrested, imprisoned and subsequently questioned by the police. Those who were questioned feigned ignorance. However, animosity brewed between one of the men-Joseph “Specs” O’Keefe-and the others. His defense was costing him a pretty penny. He began accusing the others of not giving him a fair cut. Eventually, at least one of him paid to have him killed. The hit was unsuccessful and “Specs” ran to the F.B.I.
O’Keefe gave away all eleven men who had taken part in planning the Brinks Job. One of the men had already died; two were already imprisoned; two were arrested later and six were arrested immediately. All of them were found guilty by a jury in Boston on October 5, 1956. Roughly half of the money has never been found. None of the men would cooperate with police.
FBI, The Great Brinks Robbery, retrieved 10/4/10, fbi.gov/page2/feb07/brinks020907.htm
The Brinks Robbery, retrieved 10/4/10, fbi.gov/libref/historic/famcases/brinks/brinks.htm
Chua-Eoan, Howard, The Brinks Job, 1950, retrieved 10/4/10, time.com/time/2007/crimes/6.html