When it comes to robbing banks, Brazilians think big.
The largest bank robbery in Brazilian history occurred in 2005 in Fortaleza. Incredibly, the bank robbers dug a tunnel leading to the bank and stole more than $67 million in cash.
In a 2017, a similar plot was foiled by Brazilian police authorities in São Paulo. The robbers excavated a 1,640-feet long tunnel, complete with ventilation and electric lighting, leading from a house to a Banco do Brasil vault.
That failed plot hinged on stealing $331 million. “This would have been the biggest bank robbery in the world,” said one of the Brazilian police investigators.
Now, the latest large-scale robbery has also occurred in São Paulo. It lasted for less than three minutes and netted the thieves $30 million in gold.
On July 25, a group of criminals disguised themselves as Brazilian federal police and drove a police flatbed truck to a cargo terminal at São Paulo’s Guarulhos airport. The armed criminals wore ski masks and forced a Brinks security and transport crew to load 1,500 pounds of gold bars onto their police truck bed with a forklift.
The gold was worth more than $30 million. This robbery was well-timed, choreographed, and lasted less than three minutes.
The criminals swapped their police truck twice for other getaway vehicles after the robbery. Footage from an airport security camera recorded the entire event.
Police chief João Carlos Miguel Hueb said that this was “a well-organized gang.”
“This certainly wasn’t their first robbery,” he said.
Police know the thieves had inside help. They are investigating whether it was voluntary or involuntary. Apparently, the gold robbers kidnapped and threatened one of the Brink’s Co. employees and his relatives the night before the robbery to get inside information.
Three suspects have been arrested in connection to the robbery as of July 29, 2019. Among the arrested are a Brinks employee and a Guarulhos airport cargo supervisor who initially claimed that he and his family were kidnapped and threatened to get inside information.
The $30 million in gold, however, remains missing.