The 19 Biggest Thefts Of The Year

When a single thief made off with $136 million in jewelry last month in Cannes, France, it may have been the biggest jewelry heist ever.

Meanwhile art thieves are making more money than ever.

All in all, it’s been a good year for stealing stuff.

We’ve rounded up the biggest and boldest thefts of the past 12 months. Thankfully, many of these crimes have been solved or brought to trial.

A $US2.6 million diamond necklace vanished from a star-studded party during the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Despite 80 bodyguards, the diamond necklace went missing at the end of the night, The Daily Telegraph reported. At least 20 different models wore the $US2.6 million piece, which belonged to a collection from Swiss jeweler De Grisogono.

The theft follows the disappearance of another million-dollar diamond necklace by designer Chopard during the same festival. French police are still investigating both occurrences, although they admit the festival is a favourite for jewel heists.

An employee at a wine storage company allegedly swiped $US2.7 million in vintage blends from his clients' lockers.

The employee in question was George Osumi, from Newport Beach, Calif. He had been working at Irvine's Legend Cellars when he was accused of replacing more than 1,000 bottles of first-growth Bordeaux from clients' private lockers with Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck, The Huffington Post reported.

Osumi allegedly swapped out the fine wine for a $US2 Trader Joe's blend some time between January 2008 and June 2012, prosecutors alleged, and had a friend auction off the expensive ones. Osumi would then split the proceeds with his friend who, had no idea the wine was stolen, the Orange County District Attorney said. Osumi could face 16 years in prison.

Police arrested a self-proclaimed 'gypsy' family allegedly responsible for stealing at least $US3 million in electronics.

Surveillance video footage

The family, two men and two women from Chicago, were arrested in March for allegedly stealing technological equipment from stores including Apple and Best Buy all across the country, KTLA News reported. Police say the men would select the equipment and the women would smuggle it out of the store, concealed beneath oversized dresses.

In addition to one incident at Mac Mall, an electronics store in Torrance, Calif., they stand accused of 17 other burglaries in Los Angeles and Orange County. Investigators identified them as an organised crime group targeting retail stores throughout the country in California, Florida, and Washington.

Two men broke into a home in Boynton Beach, Fla. and stole about $US3 million in watches and jewelry.

Police responded to an alarm call at the home late in July and found the home empty with a sliding glass door unlocked in the back. A collection of jewelry and watches worth about $US3 million were missing, CBS12 reported.
Two men were captured on a surveillance camera video at the Boynton Beach, Fla., home.

The surveillance camera footage showed two men and a car around the house at the time of the robbery, but police are still waiting for more information to identify the individuals in the video.

Thieves made off with almost $US4 million in jewelry from one of Paris' fanciest department stores.

Wearing masks, wigs, and bulletproof vests, the thieves took 3 million euros -- almost US$4 million -- of De Beers diamonds from Printemps department store in February 2012, Women's Wear Daily reported.

The duo left quietly. In fact, many employees and customers had no idea a robbery had even occurred. Curiously enough, just 24 hours earlier some other armed jewel thieves managed to smuggle almost $US50 million in cut and uncut diamonds out of the Brussels airport.

An original Monet as well as some pricey sculptures and jewelry worth $US5 million disappeared from a California home in June.

One of the paintings stolen from the Rancho Santa Fe home

The stolen items included sculptures by Andreas von Zadora Gerlof, four necklaces, and bracelet sets valued at around $US100,000 each, as well as three paintings, including the Monet, NBC San Diego reported. The value of the theft amounted to about $US5 million, leaving the owners devastated.

Rancho Santa Fe is well known for being an affluent community, with a median annual income of over $US188,000.

In March, police put away three men allegedly responsible for the largest, single-incident copper theft to hit Arkansas.

Lafayette Woods Jr., Spokesperson for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, called the event 'probably the biggest theft of copper that we've seen in a single incident.' The three accused men allegedly stripped $US5.5 million in copper from Union Pacific trains, KATV News reported.

Copper theft has become a national epidemic, costing the U.S. almost $US1 billion ever year.

Five men allegedly stole almost $US6 million by cutting holes in the rooftops of at least three Los Angeles banks.

It was 'one of the most elaborate crimes' that L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca says he had ever seen, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Arrests occurred in April when undercover detectives monitoring a CitiBank in Diamond Bar closed in on the group of five men, former construction workers, with walkie-talkies who had allegedly cut their way inside using power tools.

'This is something out of a movie script,' Sheriff Baca said at a news conference.

During the country's mounting political crisis, a Syrian bank lost almost one fifth of its capital.

Stacks of Syrian currency

The loss amounted to about $US10 million stolen from the International Bank for Trade and Finance in Damascus in January, according to The National. The bank's chief executive points to an insider job.

Employees only noticed the money, of various currencies, was gone the following Sunday, and officials haven't made much progress identifying the culprits yet.

As Syria descended into political unrest earlier this year, bank officials reported similar thefts across the country. Officials admitted the crisis has drastically affected the country's business relations.

Bank robbers tunneled through a three-foot thick wall to loot a strong room at Berliner Volksbank, leaving police baffled.

A police officer examines the damage done to the strong room wall at Berliner Volksbank

The thieves stole items from more than 100 safety deposit boxes; their loot could be worth an estimated £8.3 million, or $US13.3 million, in cash, jewels, and other valuables, the Daily Mail reported.

Police believe the thieves began tunneling to the wall weeks before the robbery in January. The 'professionally-dug' tunnel began at a nearby lock-up garage rented under a pseudonym. It measures four and a half feet high and three feet wide, supported by wooden shoring to keep it from collapsing. After the thieves left the strong room, they set fire to their tunnel, erasing any DNA evidence or fingerprints that could have been left.

A Miami man pleaded guilty this year to absconding with $US90 million in prescription pills -- the biggest theft in the history of Connecticut.

Amed and Amaury Villa, two brothers, allegedly broke into a warehouse owned by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly & Co. in 2010 by scaling an exterior wall and cutting a hole in the roof. They used ropes to lower themselves to the floor and disable alarms before forklifting huge pallets of drugs into their getaway vehicle. Amed pleaded guilty in July, but his brother remains silent, Fox News reported.

According to the Star Tribune, the total damage of the theft is about $US90 million worth of antidepressants, anti-psychotics, and a chemotherapy drug used to treat lung cancer.

In October, seven paintings worth $US66.5 million vanished in an instant from the Netherlands' Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam.

The space where a stolen painting once hung at the Kunsthal.

A Christie's Amsterdam representative said that the paintings, including some by Picasso, Monet, and Matisse which thieves snatched in less than two minutes, could be worth €50 million (US$66.5 million) or more.

Sadly, the historic works may not ever be recovered; last month a Romanian woman, the mother of one of the alleged thieves, claimed to have burned the works in her oven. Romanian museum officials are analysing the ash from the oven to verify the woman's claim.

A thief nabbed $US136 million worth of jewelry in broad daylight from a hotel in Cannes, France last month.

Police arrive at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel

He had entered the ritzy Carlton Intercontinental Hotel in Cannes through a side door and escaped with a suitcase full of diamonds from a highly publicized jewelry exhibit by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev.

There were just three private security guards on duty at the time, though it is unclear whether they were also armed. The robbery, which took place in minutes, was one of the history's biggest jewelry thefts.

Coincidentally, the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel is where Alfred Hitchcock's 1955 film 'To Catch a Thief' was set -- a film that also centres around a jewelry heist.

BONUS: More thieves in the French Riviera nicked jewels and expensive watches from a hotel in Nice, France.

The Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée where the theft occurred

They targeted expensive watches kept in a bedroom at the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée hotel in Nice, France and escaped on scooters. This incident occurred on August 16, barely a month after the record-breaking $US136 million jewel theft at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel, Leader-Post reported.

Unlike the theft at the Carlton, carried out by a lone gunman, The Telegraph described a 'gang' that brandished their guns at hotel staff and took a number of watches guarded in a display case. Police speculate that the Pink Panthers, an organised crime ring, may be the culprits. Because the theft is so recent, the exact value of the stolen watches remains a mystery.

Now here's why crime doesn't pay.

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