The prodigy behind every big heist observes what most of us ignore. Pierce Brosnan is back with the third episode of “History’s Greatest Heists With Pierce Brosnan” to revisit an iconic robbery that shook up the British cops in 1971. In the previous episodes, you have already seen smooth theft with less spadework, but the Lloyds bank robbery was a mastermind plan, along with sweat and blood. This heist became a dirty political game that overlooked the real burglary; the show will discover the careful preparation, brave operation, and scandalous aftermath by a local knave named Anthony Gavin and his loyal team. Amazingly, Gavin, the Sherlock Holmes fan, got inspired by “The Red-Headed League” and implemented the same idea that became a headline for years.
Trek To The Tunnel
Lloyds Bank is one of the most well-known banks in London, situated at 185 Baker Street, where it holds most of the accounts of politicians and celebrities. The bank has almost thousands of safe deposit boxes, and the vault is placed in the basement of the classic architectural building. Unemployment, inflation, and bankruptcy were the major instances during the 1960s, particularly after World War II. But it was still unimaginable for burglars to attack Lloyds Bank due to the higher security. The 3-inch-thick walls and 2-inch-thick floors, along with a five-ton gate with security alarms, requires two keys to get inside the safe room. One of the reasons burglars do not attempt such a stunt in the most secured bank of England -as there will always be an intelligent but tough guy up for all challenges, and here it is, Anthony Gavin, a guy in his mid-forties with no such crime records, teams up people for the voyage. He was a disciplined man who is now up for the biggest hit that is going to make him rich overnight. But Gavin knew that he could not undertake this endeavor alone. Baker Street is the prime location for the majority of the Detective Sherlock tales, and Gavin took inspiration from the famous whodunit titled “The Red-Headed League.”
The ringleader planned to tunnel into the bank through the neighboring buildings. And for that, he needed skilled diggers and alarm technicians, and it had to be a gang that believed in teamwork. Mickey Gervaise joined the team as the “alarm man,” while Brain Reader was the engineer of the team. “Little Legs” is an efficient miner, and Bobby Wills was hired to check up on things, or the “lookout” guy, as you might say. But the most important part of this heist has to be mapping down the path and measurement of the tunnel, and for that Reginald, Tucker became the insider of the operation. Tucker was the closest person to Gavin, with no criminal background. Being a very smart guy, he opened an account at Lloyds Bank, registering with a false name. With that, he also got some privileges and won the trust of the members and managers, making his way directly to the safe deposit boxes. He kept track of each and every spot in the targeted room, which would make the digging quite easy. The tiles positioned beneath the locker were monitored sometimes with his umbrella, but most of the time, his wrist was enough to do that. Talking about the deposit boxes- gems, jewels, money, and diamonds were not the only riches; the bank was notable for securing many confidential documents of plutocrats as well.
Three months remain for the tantalizing cat-and-mouse chase, but all it needs is prior planning and perfect execution. Besides the bank, there was a restaurant named Chicken Inn, and next to that was an abandoned leather shop named Le Sac, which turned out to be the departure point of the team. Gavin took a lease on the leather shop under the name of Benjamin Wolfe and was a part of many Ponzi schemes and criminal activities. The team is ready with their arms and tools to bulldoze the tunnel straightway to the locker of Llyod bank. Every night, they used to break up the soil with perseverance and patience. The task was absolutely tough and dangerous—spending hours and hours inside a claustrophobic tunnel with very little oxygen could put them in danger at any time, and maybe it could have even collapsed. A lot of hammering and throbbing brought the Chicken Inn employee to their door, but luck finds its way to you when you are actually prepared to grab your goal, and Gavin’s team was as lucky as a leprechaun. After ceaseless efforts, they finally reached their destination, underneath the safe locker room, conquering all the hiccups. Gavin chose the weekend to commit the perfect crime, as the bank remained close from Friday to Sunday.
Safe Boxes Are No More Safer
It was September 11, 1971; around the evening, the team was pretty busy with their activities while Bobby Mills was keeping his eyes on the movements from a distance with his binoculars and updating the team with details over the walkie-talkie. The quake alarms are already deactivated, but none of their tools, including the thermal lance, worked to pierce the walls of the room. When plans A and B disappeared in a blink, Gavin had to pick up the last plan, which he was trying not to keep his hand on. But who would like to backtrack after all the struggles? However, its surface was made of such thick walls that it could only be razed by a blast. The subtle plan involves placing pulp-like gelignite in the four corners of the vault floor, and then, boom! A heavy explosion with the smaller cousin of dynamite eventually led to toxic fumes and smoke. By 10:30 p.m., the team finally got a glimpse of the safe boxes, but it was all capped with heavy dust. Even they became unsure if the place could be hijacked at that very moment or not. Between suffocation and coughing, they finally started to dig into the safe boxes. Along with precious metals and cash, they received ample amounts of drugs and narcotic elements—a bonus for sure.
Bobby is in his lookout position, giving information to the robbers, while the eavesdropper enters the scene. Robert Rowlands encountered an unknown broadcast while surfing through his radio channels. Rowlands overheard most of the conversations of Bobby Mills and informed the police with enough evidence. The Scotland yard started checking every bank out there, around 750 locations but wasn’t informed of the fact that Robert could only trace waves within 800 meters. After a full round around the city, the cops reach Lloyds. Bobby did inform his mates, but they had no option but to flee at this point. When the detectives were about to open the door, the manager notified them that it was a time-locked door, but if there had been any such robbery, the alarm would have been activated. Despite having security forces and crooks on both sides of a safety deposit box, they failed to discover the ongoing mystery. On this date, they cleaned out more than 268 deposit boxes worth $65 million. After 30 hours inside the vault, the spectacular tunneling brought them back with pockets full while Gavin scribbled something on the sealed space (i.e., let’s wait and watch how Sherlock is going to solve this case), which instantly caught the attention of the bankers the next morning.
Heist Or Whitewash?
But, with all the conversations, it became quick for detectives to assemble the information from the Gavin team. The Baker Street heist had created a buzz, and the Queen also started taking an interest in the matter. Benjamin became a suspect, and the police started questioning him. But he had no clue of such robbery; it was just the legal papers fake signed in his name. Since the outset of this scenario, the British crown estate, administration, government, and officers have issued stern warnings to the media. The crime branch published a D notice as well. Soon, Gavin and Tucker got arrested and sentenced to twelve years of conscientious confinement.
But this heist led to a different conspiracy theory about why the Royals were involved in the case. How did four men with no criminal record actually achieve such a triumph? Was it the photos of Princess Margaret and her turbulent life, having an extramarital affair? Michael X, a freelance photographer, kept all the explicit photos in a safe locker, which finally came out to the public. There are lots of unanswered doubts about the shady case that still questions the authority, as well as the investigators, even after 50 years of the heist. The plot concerns crime, malfeasance, and a pedophile ring, in which the robbers are the most honest people taking part, and the cops are the most corrupt and incompetent ones to make head or tail of the case!