Many big heists took place in the late 70s and 80s, which is why you will find lots of cases that are either solved, unsolved, or kind of in the middle when it comes to finding the culprits behind them.
Robberies were particularly popular back in the days, especially in England, where several burglaries that have been recorded in history occurred in a variety of cities around the nation.
But where can you start when trying to research and investigate them? Should you focus on the most infamous ones or maybe aim for the small yet game-changing burglaries?
We love the big ones, and despite being part of a country’s culture by the point of being crucial to know about them, the truth is that we are more interested due to how elaborated they were and if the criminals are still free or not (most of them are).
In the Knightsbridge Security Deposit Robbery case, we have lots of steps, people, and planning involved, and it is particularly our favorite big heist of all time.
Want to know more? Stay with us!
Behind the Knighted Robbery
Going over an incident of this magnitude takes lots of work and recompilation, considering not only the specific day in which it took place. Rather, we have to make sure we are going over the aftermath and the people involved, and how the robbery was dealt with.
But for it, we need to be organized, and this is why we will do our best to provide the details in the most detailed way.
It is known as the “Knightsbridge Security Deposit Robbery,” which occurred in Cheval Place, Knightsbridge, on July 12, 1987.
For those who don’t know, it is located in London’s City of Westminster.
The robbery was led by Valerio, who was well-known for over 50 armed robberies he committed before arriving from Italy to London in 1986.
Viccei arrived in London and continued his robbery to support his playboy lifestyle, which already gives you a hint of how he spent all the money acquired from the burglaries and crimes committed.
Parvez Latif was a cocaine addict who became the center’s managing director. Valerio was able to convince him due to the debt he had on his shoulders, which didn’t take long considering how desperate Latif was at the time.
Valerio and Parvez entered the bank on the day of the robbery and asked for a safe deposit box.
After entering the vault, the two men pulled out handguns and defeated the manager and security guards.
The men put a sign at the street-level entrance stating that the bank was temporarily closed. Then they allowed their accomplices in.
They managed to open a large number of safe deposit boxes and robbed more than 60 million in British Pounds, which was about $97 million at the exchange rate during that year.
The shift was changed one hour after the robbery, and the new staff found the crime.
The crime was not known to anyone before the new shift members arrived, which gave the criminals enough time to run from the place before the new guards and workers could alert the police.
Police & Arrests: Were They Found?
One of the things most people want to know when a robbery occurs, that’s definitely if the money was found or if the people involved were arrested for the crime.
In many cases, especially in England, some perpetrators continue to be free and enjoy the money they stole.
However, in others, they were not only caught, but the authorities were able to get the money back. The question is, what’s the case with the Knightsbridge Security Deposit robbery? We will go over it.
Once the police were alerted and they arrived, the forensic investigators recovered a bloody fingerprint traced to Valerio, which was the main evidence to connect him with the crime.
Police began a surveillance period that allowed them to capture many of his accomplices. On August 12, 1987, they carried out a series of coordinated raids where many of the culprits were found.
But what happened with Valerio? Was he ever caught or found considering the fingerprint associating him to the crime scene?
Well, he fled to Latin America, where he spent lots of time and, of course, the police were unable to get him due to the limits and very low interest in the foreign authorities in helping.
However, his biggest mistake came: he decided to return to England to retrieve his Ferrari Testarossa (egocentric? Quite a lot). Police stopped him, and his front windscreen was smashed while a few agents took him out.
If you ask us, this was quite stupid considering that his actions in order to get a simple car cost him his freedom.
What We Knew About “The Wolf”
Before going to the last part of the case, we need to go over who Valerio was, to begin with. After all, did he really go back for his Ferrari and ended up being caught because of it? Yes… believe it or not.
However, it isn’t that hard to believe when you learn a thing or two about the man.
Valerio was born in a family that included lawyers. He began his career in robbery and burglary when he was only 17, and, at the time, he blew up an electricity station.
During his student years, he was a troublemaker and was most often involved in right-wing terrorist organizations in Italy.
He was called “The Wolf” by his friends, with whom he was involved in a series of bombings, shootings, and other activities during the 1970s and 1980s.
But Valerio didn’t spend much time in politics and even stated, “For a short time I was involved in politics, but I soon realized it wasn’t worth it and just started robbing banks. I enjoyed the thrill of the chase with the police.”
As we previously mentioned, he lived a playboy life that was afforded with all the money and goods stolen during his active years.
One of them was when he made a successful raid at Coutts’ Queen’s Bank after arriving in London.
His extravagant lifestyle included many sexual conquests. He was seen once with Lady Bienvenida, a beautiful blonde Spanish mistress.
Verdict & Goods Retrieved – The Last of Valerio Viccei
After he was caught and unable to escape, Valerio was taken into custody to wait for his trial, which didn’t take long after being arrested in England.
During it, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison and was serving his years in Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight.
The strange part is that he and Dick Leach, an officer who actually led his arrest, became friends by exchanging letters and calling themselves nicknames. “Fred” was Leach, and “Garfield” or “The Wolf” was supposed to be Viccei.
Although the latter was serving his condemnation, he was deported to Italy in 1992 to serve the rest and was relocated to an open jail in Pescara.
The sad part about this? The prison where he was placed next allowed him to continue his playboy life and even run a company. Does it make sense? Not at all.
Some people believe Leach was involved in his deportation by allowing the government to place him in this open jail. Though, there isn’t proof of this.
After this, we go to 2000, April 19, to be more specific.
This was the day Viccei was released from prison. Unfortunately for him, a gunfight exploded out involving Viccei, the police, and compliance of the first, which led to his death.
You might be thinking, “All right, where’s the money then?”
The answer is simpler than you think.
Most of the money he stole wasn’t only in cash but also in diamonds and jewelry, which the police recovered, including the handgun he presumptively used during the crime.
Although not all the money was retrieved due to the expenses not many know about, a great deal of it was able to return to security boxes. The Knightsbridge Safety Deposit Centre didn’t have to deal with great losses.
Finally, the rest of the men involved were reportedly caught over the years and met their sentence in prison accordingly.
What You Are Missing in the Knightsbridge Security Deposit Robbery
- After the big heist, Lady Bienvenida visited him while he was serving his sentence in the maximum-security prison.
- Quoting Valerio himself, “The best job I did without question was Knightsbridge – it was magic, wonderful when I saw all that money and jewelry I really thought I’d done it.”
- He also mentioned that about a third of the people never came to claim the goods or money stolen.
- He was always asked about the missing millions the police couldn’t retrieve, and he always laughed and shrugged his shoulders as the answer.
- When he died, he was already planning a new crime since the police found ski masks in his car.
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