Berlin Bank Robbery Tunnel

It's straight out of the movies! Earlier this week, police discovered that robbers had dug a 100-foot long tunnel into the safe deposit room of a Berlin bank. They looted the safety boxes within, which some reports have said to be worth up to €10 million. Afterwards, they set fire as they left to cover up their tracks.

From The Telegraph (Image: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters):

Police were alerted to the break-in at the Berliner Volksbank branch early on Monday morning when a security guard noticed smoke coming from the vault.

They besieged and eventually stormed the safe room where the thieves had holed up only to find out they had escaped through a tunnel dug by accomplices.

The tunnel originated in a nearby underground parking garage and must have taken the robbers weeks if not months to dig through. As this illustration from Die Welt showed, the robbers probably used their cars to haul away dirt from the dig:

The German police has released photos of the tunnel and a suspect. Spiegel has the photo gallery and NTDTV has the video clip:


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Hi Alex,
Glad you liked it! :-)
As a matter of fact, I live only 30min driving from that bank in Nice... And as you said, it was "stuff of legends", even today 36 years later, everyone knows the story on the French Riviera.
For example, a couple of years ago I was in a restaurant, discussing that heist with a friend, and we disagreed about the date of the robbery. I asked the waiter for his opinion ; he didn't say a word, but came back a minute layer and dropped on the table the local journal ("Nice Matin") which had been published the day after the heist! You can guess what was the front page title! :-)
Spaggiari's words "Sans arme, ni haine, ni violence" are also the name of a 2007 movie about the heist.
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Thanks Sham - I learned something new today! According to Wikipedia, the 1976 Heist by Albert Spaggiari was the stuff of legends:

When Spaggiari heard that the sewers were close to the vault of the Société Générale bank, he began to plan a break-in into the bank. Eventually he decided to do it by digging into the bank vault from below. Spaggiari rented a box in the bank vault for himself and then put a loud alarm clock in the vault. He set the clock to ring at night in order to check the possible existence of any acoustic or seismic detection gear. In fact, there were no alarms protecting the vault because it was considered utterly impregnable; the door wall was extremely thick and there was no obvious way to access the other walls.

Spaggiari contacted professional gangsters from Marseille. Although it has never been verified, he probably got support from Gaëtano Zampa to build a team that was completed by some of his OAS friends, including would-be-assassin of Charles De Gaulle Gaby Anglade and con artist Jean Kay. His men made their way into the sewers and began a two-month effort to dig an eight meter long tunnel from the sewer to under the vault. Spaggiari had taken many precautions during this long dig. His men worked long hours continuously drilling. He told his men not to drink coffee nor alcohol and get at least 10 hours of sleep every shift to avoid any danger to the mission.

On July 16, 1976, during a long weekend due to Bastille Day festivities, Spaggiari's gang broke into the vault itself. They opened 400 safe deposit boxes and stole an estimated 60 million francs worth of money, securities and valuables.

According to some accounts, Spaggiari brought his men a meal including wine and pâté, and reportedly they sat down in the vault for a picnic lunch, after welding the vault door shut from the inside. The gang spent hours picking through the various safe deposit boxes. Before they left on July 20, they left this message on the walls of the vault: sans armes, ni haine, ni violence ("without weapons, nor hatred, nor violence"). This was Spaggiari's message to the world, implying that he considered himself to be something more than a common thief.
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Sounds to me like a copycat of 1976 Spaggiari robbery in Nice, France. Have a look at it, that was an incredible affair (I like the fact that the guy got caught, but escaped from the judge's office at the tribunal by jumping through the widow, 1st floor of the building!).
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Check out Twaggies' very funny clip:

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