Crime Throughout History: The Dunbar Armored Robbery
- November 4, 2015
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on Crime Throughout History: The Dunbar Armored Robbery
The truth is that most people who commit robberies in the U.S. are caught fairly quickly. In most of these cases, the robbers may get away with a few thousand dollars but big heists are uncommon. However, once in awhile, some bold criminal may make off with quite a bit more.
That was the case with the Dunbar Armored Robbery. In 1997, a group of thieves committed one of the biggest cash robberies in the nation’s history. As a result, the thieves managed to evade law enforcement for several years before finally being caught. When all was said and done, millions of dollars were missing.
On September 12, 1997, a group of thieves robbed the Dunbar Armored facility in Los Angeles, California. The Dunbar company specialized in armored car services and the LA facility was a major depot for these vehicles. As such, a great deal of cash was stored in the facility, most of it intended for ATMs in the Los Angeles area.
A man named Allen Pace III worked for Dunbar as a regional safety inspector. At some point, working around all that cash must have gotten the better of Pace. He went to great lengths to study the layout and security features of the Dunbar depot. He photographed the building, studied the guards’ schedules and timed the security cameras.
After a great deal of planning, Pace recruited five friends to help him pull off the heist. On the night of September 12, the group met a at party before slipping away, dressing in black and going to the Dunbar facility.
Once there, they used Pace’s knowledge of the facility to sneak inside. They then waited for guards to go on break before overpowering them and tying them up. They grabbed the bags of cash with the highest denominations, destroyed the security camera recordings and escaped.
All told, Pace and his friends stole about $18.9 million. They evaded capture for over two years. They covered their tracks by carefully storing and laundering the money. Some of the money was laundered by purchasing homes and property while some was funneled through phony businesses.
For a long time, the only clue was a tail light from a U-Haul truck recovered from the scene of the crime. Although this was not definitive evidence, it was all the authorities had to go on. They were certain that the crime had been an inside job and they investigated Pace but no hard evidence was uncovered.
Eventually, an informant was able to identify one of the suspects in the case and authorities were soon able to tie Pace to the U-Haul truck rental. The gang was quickly arrested and charged.
For his crimes, Allen Pace was found guilty and sentenced to 24 years in prison. Pace testified in his own defense and claimed that the others had set him up. The father of one of the suspects, who had helped him launder over $100,000, testified against the gang in court. Another member of the crew was sentenced to 17 1/2 years while the final four each got between seven to 10 years.
To this day, no one is sure what happened to most of the cash stolen from the Dunbar facility. Nearly $20 million was stolen but only about $5 million was ever recovered. Without the tip from an informant, it’s possible that Pace and the rest of the gang might never have been apprehended. To date, the Dunbar Armored Robbery still stands as one of the largest cash heists ever committed in America.