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The Crime of the Century: How the Brink's Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston

The first history in thirty years of Boston’s most celebrated heist details the story of what was dubbed “the crime of the century.” On January 17, 1950, seven robbers in Halloween masks walked into a counting room of the Brink’s armored car garage on Prince Street in Boston and walked out with $2.5 million in cash, checks, and securities. It was the largest robbery in U.S. history to date. Yet not a shot was fired, not a drop of blood shed. The robbers simply said, “This is a stick-up,” before gagging and tying up the guards. Within minutes they escaped into the night with bags stuffed with money, leaving almost no clues behind. For six years authorities worked to crack the case. Just before the statute of limitations ran out, one of the robbers, who believed he was cheated out of his share, ratted out his comrades. The subsequent trial captivated a city, as details of the caper finally came to light. Yet most of the loot was never found, and over the years Bostonians have speculated on where it went. Even after the case was solved and the culprits were jailed, the Brink’s robbery continued to fascinate the public. How did a ragtag group of petty criminals— Irish, Italian, and one Jew—somehow pull off a nearly perfect crime? Hollywood made two movies that portrayed the robbers as working-class heroes. A closer examination of the robbery, however, reveals a darker side. What first appeared to be a daring, bloodless caper turned deadly when the lure of the cash and the fear of imprisonment turned friend against friend. Soon the criminal code of silence was being enforced with the blast of a machine gun. To this day mystery and intrigue surround the Brink’s robbery even as it continues to grip the imagination of Boston.

Definitively researched and captivatingly told, this is the scoop on the iconic crime we only thought we knew. Written with the heft of investigative reporting, the insight of good history, and the page-turning suspense of a thriller, this is an irresistible tale of real-life Boston.

--Hank Phillippi Ryan, investigative reporter, WHDH-TV Boston, and author, Face Time

The Clue to the Crime of the Century

In 2011, I was interviewed for a segment of "Mysteries At the Museum," which airs on the Travel Channel. The segment focused on the Brink's robbery, in particular, the chauffeur's cap that was left at the scene of the crime. I also did some research for the segment, which pops up on TV every now and then. Click the link to see a trailer for the piece. I enjoyed doing it, particularly as I had suggested that they focus on the cap which I knew was at FBI headquarters. And yes, that's me with the cap at the headquarters in Washington D.C. Yep, got the photo and a T shirt too.

Click on the photo to link to the Mysteries show. Or go to: