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Famous Real-Life Bank Robberies

It's a fair cop, m'lud!

As the hit West End show The Comedy About A Bank Robbery smashes and grabs its way into Milton Keynes Theatre we take a look at three of the most famous, real life heists that have made the front pages over the years.

Burglars or robbers? Aren't they one and the same? Apparently not. In a robbery, violence or guns would be used, otherwise it's burglary. So the Hatton Garden raiders, who got away with £14m worth of goods over the bank holiday weeken in 2015 were burglars, not robbers, because no violence was inflicted and no guns were carried. Those bad boys just drilled their way through a thick concrete wall, strolled out with the contents of 73 safe boxes and left without leaving a forensic trace.

Not that they got away with it. Within a year all but one, the mysterious Basil who has never been identified, were caught and banged to rights.

The Great Train Robbery was a different matter altogether. Ronnie Biggs and co. were armed robbers who, in August 1963, brought the Glasgow to London Royal Mail train to a halt with a fake stop signal at Ledburn, near Mentmore, just down the road from Milton Keynes. The robbers got away with £2.6m - equivalent of about £40m today - and in doing so, the train driver, Jack Mills, was attacked and never recovered from his injuries. Biggs was caught but escaped from prison two years later and went on the run for 36 years only to return to the UK in 2001 where he spent several years in prison until, in poor health, he was released from prison on compassionate grounds and died in December 2013.

Graff Diamonds' shop in London's Mayfair has been hit hard more than once over the years. But in 2009 almost £40m of gems were stolen in a raid that saw the robbers professionally made up and wearing wigs and latex prosthetics to look older. Waving handguns they forced staff to the floor before ordering a shop assistant to help empty rings, necklaces, watches and earrings from display cases. Two shots were fired and an assistant briefly taken hostage before they made their getaway in a BMW. But following a collision with a Black Cab the men abandoned the car and, in transferring to a second vehicle, left a loaded sawn-off shotgun, four cartridges and a mobile phone in it. That did for them.  Anonymous numbers stored on the phone eventually allowed police to track the robbers down. They were arrested, charged, found guilty and given long sentences in prison. Mind you, most of the gems have still not been recovered...

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery runs in Milton Keynes Theatre from 20 to 24 November 2018 - Book now!