We are at the International Trading Estate, located near Heathrow Airport in London. The year is 1983; the date is Nov. 26. While this may seem like any other day, one of the biggest heists in United Kingdom history is about to take place.
On this day, £26 million ($33 million) worth of bullion, cash and diamonds was looted from a Brink’s-Mat operated warehouse. In today’s money, this equates to more than £93 million ($112 million) worth of assets.
Brink’s-Mat was a joint venture between MAT Transport, a firm based in London, and Brink’s, a U.S. security firm. The Brink’s-Mat robbers’ initial objective was to steal £3.2 million ($3.85 million) in cash, but they instead ran off with three tons of gold bullion. This made it the biggest score in British history.
The stolen bullion was Johnson Matthey Bankers Limited property, which sold its bank in 1984 after incurring staggering losses.
It is believed that six robbers took part in the heist; however, only two men were convicted. A huge chunk of the stolen gold was never recovered.
This bold heist was recently acted out in a new BBC One series, “The Gold,” by Neil Forsyth. The Scottish author, journalist and television writer has written and created various shows, including “Guilt, Bob Servant” and “Eric, Ernie and Me.”
The six-part series starts us off with six men clad in balaclavas breaking into the secure Brink’s-Mat storage facility near the airport. From there, we are taken through the events that transpired on that fateful day. We see the robbers split up and begin looting the premises.
Throughout the series, law enforcement officers remain in hot pursuit of the criminals, with DCI Brian Boyce leading the manhunt. This character is played by Hugh Bonneville, best known as the Earl of Grantham, Robert Crawlaw of “Downton Abbey.” The only female detective in the squad, Detective Jennings, is played by Charlotte Spencer while Jack Lowden plays Kenneth Noye, one of the robbers who took part in this daring heist.
This isn’t the first time a film based on the robbery has been written. In 1992, a film called “Fool’s Gold” with Sean Bean portraying McAvoy, was released.
Micky McAvoy, one of the six robbers, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for armed robbery in 1984. Later in January 1995, he was ordered by the High Court to pay £27,488,299 ($33 million). This made him responsible for the total sum stolen.
A documentary on the “Crime and Investigation” UK network released in 2010 also featured this robbery.
Gold has fascinated many and been the target of daring heists over the years, but the current crop of industry players, including Newmont Corporation (NYSE: NEM) (TSX: NGT), have evolved, and it would be hard for such blatant acts of criminality to happen today.
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