The 10 Greatest Thieves in the World

12 min read
the 10 greatest thieves in the world

There is no shortage of well-known thieves who have stolen practically everything under the sun, including priceless works of art from museums or sizable sums of money, from countries like the United States, France, and India.

Although we wouldn’t want to interact with these men in person, their skills are evident. These con artists have stolen money from us and amassed one of the largest debts in history thanks to their combined efforts. Keep a watch on your wallet since these infamous robbers would take it in an instant.

Let us take a look at the 10 greatest thieves in the world.

1. Doris Payne

Doris Payne, one of the most notorious jewel thieves in history, is something of a cult figure; a 2013 documentary (in which she also starred) immortalised her six decades of criminal activity, including the tale of her most infamous theft, a $500,000 10-carat diamond ring in Monte Carlo in the 1970s.

She had lived a life of crime for more than seven decades, robbing anybody and anything she could get her hands on. She was able to smuggle stuff into her bag by frequently appearing as a wealthy customer in order to convince shopkeepers to lower their guard.

2. Derek “Bertie” Smalls

You may also be familiar with the name Derek “Bertie” Smalls if you are aware of the widespread armed robberies that occurred in Great Britain in the 1960s and 1970s. The highlight of Smalls’ career was his heist of the Ilford Barclay’s Bank branch in 1970, when he stole a record-breaking sum of £237,000. The east Londoner fled the scene and eventually made his way to Paris and the Costa del Sol, where he read about the search for his capture in the press.

3. Carl Gugasian

Carl Gugasian, an Ivy League educated army officer with a PhD in statistics and probability, likely never intended to make a living as a criminal; however, after organising a number of practise robberies in his spare time, the Pennsylvania native and former juvenile offender started to gain notoriety as the “Friday Night Bank Robber”. He continues to this day to hold the title of most infamous bank robber in American history. He managed to steal $2 million over his protracted period of criminal activities while robbing numerous banks and shooting multiple individuals.

4. Frank Abagnale Jr

Frank Abagnale Jr., one of the most famous con artists in history, was immortalised by Steven Spielberg and Leonardo Di Caprio in the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can. Frank Abagnale was in fact a sophisticated criminal, con artist, check thief, and impostor who eventually worked as an American security expert. He took on various identities during his criminal career, including those of a doctor, airline pilot, lawyer, and even a jail adviser – and all of this before the age of 21. He admitted to his crimes after he was apprehended and helped the government identify scammers.

5. Albert Spaggiari

Albert Spaggiari’s first crime was robbing a jewellery store in order to buy his lover a diamond ring, but he rose to fame by planning a break-in at the Société Générale bank in Nice, France. He personally selected a group of skilled thieves, among them Gaby Anglade, to help him carry out his criminal schemes. The group entered the bank through the sewers and constructed a tunnel under the vault. Later, on July 16, 1976, amid the celebrations of Bastille Day, they stormed into the vault and took 60 million francs. While emptying the safes, his team even enjoyed a picnic on the bank floors.

6. Jesse James

Many books, films, and documentaries have attempted to retell the life of the illustrious Western gangster Jesse James throughout the years. So who exactly was this outlaw? The children of a pastor, Jesse James and his brother Frank were. Prior to starting a life of crime, they enlisted in the Confederate militia during the Civil War.

When they began robbing shops, banks, and trains across the southern states, they were just teenagers. The two then established the James Younger gang and spread mayhem throughout each place they went to. There was a bounty on Jesse James’ head, but he was slain in 1882 at the age of 34 by a criminal friend named Robert Ford.

7. Bill Mason

If you can plagiarise Truman Capote, you have undoubtedly established your reputation. That is what Bill Mason carried out. He committed a number of high-profile jewellery heists around the US over his lifetime, and like many of his contemporaries, Mason began his lengthy career in crime when he was still a young man. He built a living by going to opulent high society events, mingling with the various guests, and then robbing them completely. Mason’s thefts totaled $35 million, to give you an idea of how much he took. Phyllis Diller, Armand Hammer, Truman Capote, and other well-known people were among his victims.

8. Veerappan

Munisamy Veerappan Mallar, also a contentious figure, was an Indian bandit who spent over 30 years eluding police arrest before being killed by a Special Task Team in 2004. He was also known more generally as just Veerappan. He operated his illegal enterprise from the verdant jungles of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka.

He is thought to have murdered close to a dozen Native Americans, killed thousands of elephants, and trafficked quantities of ivory and sandalwood. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he murdered multiple police officers, anti-poachers, and local residents who he thought were police informants.

9. Vincenzo Peruggia

Perhaps the greatest art thief of the 20th century was Vincenzo Peruggia. This argument will be advanced by many, particularly in light of how straightforward his greatest work was. The Mona Lisa was taken from the Louvre in Paris by Peruggia. In actuality, he was employed by the Louvre and had no elaborate plans. One night, he crept into the museum and took the Mona Lisa down off the wall. I’m done now! How clever, in fact.

10. Natwarlal

Natwarlal, an Indian fraudster, forger, and con artist by profession and a lawyer, rose to fame for his high-profile crimes and prison breaks. He used a number of names to defraud hundreds of companies, banks, and small stores for millions of rupees. He was a skilled forger, and his signature move was to pose as a government official and deceive tourists into buying the Taj Mahal (as well as other Indian landmarks such as the Red Fort, the Rashtrapati Bhawan and the Parliament House of India). He had accomplished this using 50 different aliases, falsified records, and several impersonations.

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