The Top Five Most Notorious Mint Robberies
While there have been many robbery attempts at the United States Mint, most would-be thieves don’t make it out the door with the money. Here are the stories of five robberies that were at least initially successful— and what happened to the stolen money.
1. The Denver Mint Robbery
On the afternoon of December 18, 1922, five men stormed a Federal Reserve Bank delivery truck outside the U.S. Mint in Colorado. A black Buick screamed up to the curb and out jumped several gunmen who grabbed nearly $200,000 in currency that was being loaded onto the truck. U.S. Mint guards rushed to the scene, but the gang had already made their getaway. No one was ever charged with the robbery, despite Denver Police Chief A.T. Clark’s announcement 12 years later that the robbery team had been identified. The suspects that were identified were already in prison on unrelated charges or had died.
2. The Philadelphia Mint Gold Bar Robbery
In 1893, Henry S. Cochran, a weighing clerk at the Philadelphia Mint, was found to have embezzled $134,000 in gold bars from the mint vault over a period of approximately 10 years. Cochran, a 40-year government employee, pushed a bent wire through one of the small holes in the iron-latticed vault door. He used the wire to knock the topmost gold bar from a stack. He would then push the bar close to the door, which had a rusty hinge that allowed him to take the gold from the vault. After questioning, Cochran confessed, police recovered $107,000 in gold bullion from his home and from a cache in the mint’s ventilation system.
3. The Philadelphia Mint Error Coins Robbery
William Gray, a retired 26-year veteran of the Philadelphia police department, had worked at the Philadelphia Mint since 1996. In 2011, he admitted to stealing $2.4 million worth of $1 presidential coins that were missing the edge lettering. He knew these nearly 32,000 “error coins” would be valuable and so he sold them to a California coin dealer. Gray pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 36 months in a federal penitentiary. He also had to forfeit most of his property and homes to pay back the government.
4. The San Francisco Mint Double Eagle Robbery
Walter Dimmick began working at the San Francisco Mint in 1898. By 1901 he was trusted with the keys to the vaults. That is, until an audit revealed that six bags of $20 Double Eagles worth $30,000 were missing. Despite a lack of hard evidence, suspicion fell upon Dimmick. At trial, Dimmick was found guilty and sentence to nine years in prison. The coins were never found. Recently, however, some have wondered whether the coins discovered in the Saddle Ridge Hoard were the ones the Dimmick had stolen from the mint. However, United States Mint representative Adam Stump told CNN, “We do not have any information linking the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins to any thefts at any United States Mint facility.” And so the mystery lives on.
5. The Perth Mint Swindle
Mint robberies don’t just happen in the United States. Perhaps the most famous heist from a mint occurred on June 22, 1982, when 49 gold bars weighing nearly 150 pounds were stolen from the Perth Mint in Western Australia. At today’s gold prices, the haul would be worth more than three million dollars. Three brothers — Ray, Peter and Brian Mickelburg — were convicted and sentenced to jail. However, all three convictions were overturned in 2004 — and the crime remains unsolved to this day.
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West Seattle Coins specializes in gold buying and dealing in rare coins. We are a family-owned business that was established in 1979 in West Seattle. We also buy and sell gold, silver, diamonds, currency and jewelry. Visit us first for a free evaluation.