In one of L.A.’s largest cash heists, burglars steal as much as $30 million in elaborate operation

In one of the largest cash heists in Los Angeles history, thieves made off with as much as $30 million in an Easter Sunday burglary at a San Fernando Valley money storage facility, an L.A. police official said.

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The burglary occurred Sunday night at a facility in Sylmar where cash from businesses across the region is handled and stored, said L.A. Police Department Cmdr. Elaine Morales.

The thieves were able to breach the building as well as the safe where the money was stored, Morales said. Law enforcement sources said the burglary was among the largest in city history when it comes to cash, and the total also surpassed any armored-car heist in the city.

Mystery surrounds the break-in.

Sources familiar with the investigation told The Times that a burglary crew broke through the roof of the Gardaworld building on Roxford Street to gain access to the vault. But it is unclear how they avoided the alarm system.

The Canada-based security company has not responded to requests for comment.

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The operators of the business did not discover the massive theft until they opened the vault Monday. An ABC-7 TV news helicopter video showed a large cut on the side of the building covered by a piece of plywood.

Authorities were alerted, and detectives from the LAPD’s Mission Division station responded to the crime scene to gather evidence.

A law enforcement source confirmed to The Times there was an effort to breach the side of the cash-holding building in addition to the roof. At least one alarm was triggered during the crime, but it was not connected to local law enforcement, according to a source familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Further adding to the intrigue is that very few individuals would have known of the huge sums of cash being kept in that safe, according to law enforcement sources.

The break-in was described as elaborate and suggested an experienced crew who knew how to gain entry to a secure facility and go unnoticed.

Scott Selby, author of “Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History,” said that the theft has “all the markings of a really well-thought-out job” that was done by a “professional crew,” adding that based on other major heists of this nature, it is likely that the thieves had some inside intelligence.

He said investigators will be “looking around the globe for crimes with a similar M.O.”

As to whether the money is traceable, Selby said it depends on whether there are records of serial numbers or the cash that was collected is already in circulation. It is hard to hide ill-gotten gains and launder traceable bills, he said.

“As technology progresses and the world gets small, there are a lot of ways you can mess up and get caught,” Selby said. “With touch DNA, the slightest mistake can expose the identity of a member of the crew, leading authorities to eventually identify their associates.”

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday night that the agency and the LAPD are investigating the theft.

A federal source said investigators were trying to complete a full accounting of the missing cash, but said it could be the largest cash heist in L.A.’s history.

The prior largest cash robbery in Los Angeles was on Sept. 12, 1997, with the theft of $18.9 million from the former site of the Dunbar Armored facility on Mateo Street. Those behind the incident were eventually caught.

Sunday’s theft comes nearly two years after the multimillion-dollar heist of jewelry from a Brink’s big rig at a Grapevine truck stop.

As much as $100 million in jewels and valuables was taken from the truck.

In that case, thieves made off with the goods at 3 a.m. on July 11, 2022, stuffing more than 20 large bags with jewelry, gems and other items that the Brink’s tractor-trailer had been transporting to the L.A. area from the International Gem and Jewelry Show in San Mateo.

The heist occurred during a 27-minute window in which one driver slept in the vehicle’s sleeper berth and another ate a meal at the Flying J, a sprawling truck stop just off Interstate 5’s sinuous Grapevine in Lebec, Calif.

That crime remains unsolved.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times




  2. Rico Lagattuta says

    Don’t waste time looking around the globe for similar crimes. It was an inside job!

  3. Yep – inside job.
    “Break in” was just a diversion – money was misdirected earlier that day or the day before.

  4. Coming to a movie theatre near you, soon!

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