Entries Tagged "theft"

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1971 Social Engineering Attack

From Betty Medsger’s book on the 1971 FBI burglary (page 22):

As burglars, they used some unusual techniques, ones Davidon enjoyed recalling years later, such as what some of them did in 1970 at a draft board office in Delaware. During their casing, they had noticed that the interior door that opened to the draft board office was always locked. There was no padlock to replace, as they had done at a draft board raid in Philadelphia a few months earlier, and no one in the group was able to pick the lock. The break-in technique they settled on at that office must be unique in the annals of burglary. Several hours before the burglary was to take place, one of them wrote a note and tacked it to the door they wanted to enter: “Please don’t lock this door tonight.” Sure enough, when the burglars arrived that night, someone had obediently left the door unlocked. The burglars entered the office with ease, stole the Selective Service records, and left. They were so pleased with themselves that one of them proposed leaving a thank-you note on the door. More cautious minds prevailed. Miss Manners be damned, they did not leave a note.

Posted on February 5, 2014 at 6:02 AMView Comments

1971 FBI Burglary

Interesting story:

…burglars took a lock pick and a crowbar and broke into a Federal Bureau of Investigation office in a suburb of Philadelphia, making off with nearly every document inside.

They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the F.B.I. against dissident groups.

Video article. And the book.

Interesting precursor to Edward Snowden.

Posted on January 10, 2014 at 6:45 AMView Comments

Brazen Physical Thefts

Three brazen robberies are in the news this week.

The first was a theft at a small museum of gold nuggets worth $750,000:

Police said the daring heist happened between daytime tours, during a 20-minute window. Museum employees said the thief used an ax to smash the acrylic window, and then left the ax behind.

“He just grabbed it, threw in bag and over a fence he went,” Richard Hauck said, adding that there were no surveillance cameras operating at the time.

The second was at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York:

But now, the thieves have shattered the sense of security at the hotel, following the daring smash-and-grab around 2 a.m. Saturday in the middle of the hotel’s spectacular lobby.

The three thieves walked right into the hotel, and one pulled a sledgehammer and smashed the Jacob & Co. case right next to the front desk. They made away with some very expensive jewelry.

The thieves then made a quick getaway with the stolen watches, necklace, earrings, cufflinks and pendants—with a total value reported at $2 million.

And the third was the largest—$50 million in diamonds stolen from the Brussels Airport:

Forcing their way through the airport’s perimeter fence, the thieves raced, police lights flashing, to Flight LX789, which had just been loaded with diamonds from a Brink’s armored van from Antwerp, Belgium, and was getting ready for an 8:05 p.m. departure for Zurich.


Waving guns that the Brussels prosecutors’ office described as “like Kalashnikovs,” they calmly ordered ground staff workers and the pilot, who was outside the plane making a final inspection, to back off and began unloading scores of gem-filled packets from the cargo hold. Without firing a shot, they then sped away into the night with a booty that the Antwerp Diamond Centre said was worth around $50 million but which some Belgian news media reported as worth much more.

I don’t have anywhere near enough data to call this a trend, but the similarities are striking. In all cases, the robbers barreled straight through security, relying on surprise and speed. In all cases, security based on response wasn’t fast enough to do any good. And in all cases, there’s surveillance video that—at least so far—isn’t very useful.

It’s important to remember that, even in our high-tech Internet world, sometimes smash-and-grab still works.

Related: Here’s a nice essay about diamond thefts, and the particular problems of securing diamonds. And this essay, by the same author, explains how to fence stolen diamonds.

EDITED TO ADD (3/13): A similar case from The Netherlands.

Posted on February 28, 2013 at 6:35 AMView Comments

Apollo Robbins, Pickpocket

Fascinating story:

“Come on,” Jillette said. “Steal something from me.”

Again, Robbins begged off, but he offered to do a trick instead. He instructed Jillette to place a ring that he was wearing on a piece of paper and trace its outline with a pen. By now, a small crowd had gathered. Jillette removed his ring, put it down on the paper, unclipped a pen from his shirt, and leaned forward, preparing to draw. After a moment, he froze and looked up. His face was pale.

“Fuck. You,” he said, and slumped into a chair.

Robbins held up a thin, cylindrical object: the cartridge from Jillette’s pen.

Really—read the whole thing.

EDITED TO ADD (1/6): A video accompanying the article. There’s much more on YouTube.

Posted on January 2, 2013 at 8:44 AMView Comments

Keys to the Crown Jewels Stolen?

At least, that’s the story:

The locks at the Tower of London, home to the Crown Jewels, had to be
changed after a burglar broke in and stole keys.

The intruder scaled gates and took the keys from a sentry post.

Guards spotted him but couldn’t give chase as they are not allowed to leave their posts.

But the story has been removed from the Mirror’s website. This is the only other link I have. Anyone have any idea if this story is true or not?

ETA (11/14): According to this BBC article, keys for a restaurant, conference rooms, and an internal lock to the drawbridges were on the stolen key set, but the Crown Jewels were never at risk.

Posted on November 14, 2012 at 5:57 AMView Comments

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.