April 17, 2014 – An article on kgw.com has compiled a top five list of mint thefts and robberies. Although one could think that these particularly secure places would lead to a better crime clearance rate – but apparently not …
In 1893 a clerk of the Philadelphia Mint in the USA, Henry S. Cochran, was found guilty of having embezzled $134,000. Today his strategy sounds like a boyish trick: with a bent wire he reached through a hole in the vault door pushing gold bars from a stack and pulling them then out. And this worked for ten years! At any rate, some $107,000 were seized after he was busted.
Nearly at the same time the case of another mint clerk, Walter Dimmick, occurred. In 1901 he was accused of stealing $30,000 from the US Mint in San Francisco. However, the 1,500 gold Double Eagles have never been found. Recently voices rumoured that coins from this theft appeared in a spectacular coin hoard, that was in the news earlier this year – but officials denied any link.
In 1922 robbers chose a much straighter way of proceeding. Heavily armed they attacked a money transport in front of the US Mint of Colorado. Although this method seems rather clumsy it was nevertheless effective. The $200,000 booty have never turned up again. Twelve years later (!) police claimed to have made out certain suspects – but these men were in prison on other charges already or even dead.
The online article refers to two cases from more recent times too. A police officer of the Philadelphia mint purloined $1 Presidential Coins sorted out previously as mint errors. The thief sold about 32,000 of these ‘rare’ coins worth some $2.4 million to a coin dealer until he went to prison in 2012. (We reported on this more in detail in CoinsWeekly.)
In 1982 49 gold bars disappeared from the Perth Mint in Australia – their value today: over 3 million dollars. Three brothers were convicted on that charge. In 2004, however, the judgment was reversed. The actual thieves have never been ascertained.
The last case is much more pleasant. A clerk of the US Central Bank happened to destroy banknotes and tried to compensate the bank by printing the banknotes during the night. Too good to be true? Actually you are right. This is only the plot of a comedy: ‘Who’s Minding the Mint?’. As it seems only in films people are committing crimes because they are too honest.
You can find the top five list here.