In early 1950, a group of armed robbers stormed the Brink’s building in Boston, Massachusetts. The team, headed by Joseph “Big Joe” McGinnis, used a complicated endeavor that left few clues behind. It was later deemed “the crime of the century” by newspapers and investigators.
McGinnis brought in collaborators, like Joseph “Specs” O’Keefe, Anthony Pino, and Stanley “Gus” Gusciora. Together, the group executed a daring plan that saw them make off with millions of dollars. So, how did they do it?
The team first relied on O’Keefe and Gusciora’s lockpicking skills to pick the door outside the Brink’s depot. They carefully removed the cylinders from the door, one at a time, to bring them back to a locksmith to make duplicates of the keys for each of the locks. The men allegedly used an ice pick to skillfully pick the locks.
Meanwhile, Pino studied the guard schedules to plan the perfect time for their heist. The team brought in seven more professionals to help them complete the job, including Pino’s brother-in-law, Vincent Costa.
Now with eleven experts ready to hit the depot, the team prepared for the day of the heist. They spent two years practicing runs through the building after the staff had left for the day, preparing themselves for the day they’d trip the alarms by breaking into the vault.
On January 17, 1950, the team finally made their move. The group has attempted the robbery six prior times, but each time they’d called it off because conditions weren’t perfectly favorable. Pino and a driver stayed outside in a getaway truck while the rest of the men donned outfits that looked similar to Brink’s uniforms.
They surprised several Brink’s personnel on the second floor, using their copied keys to sneak into the building undetected. They bound and gagged the employees and began stuffing money orders, checks, and other securities into their bags. They then returned to the truck, handed several of the men their cuts, and split up to establish alibis.
The FBI was initially stumped in the case as the robbers only left a single rope behind as evidence of their crime. Authorities caught a lucky break when they arrested O’Keefe and Gusciora on a separate burglary charge, learning that the two had been involved in the Brink’s incident.
While the robbers eventually all spent time behind bars for their role in the crime, police only ever recovered $58,000 of the nearly $3 million the men stole. Some investigators speculate that the checks and money orders could still be stashed somewhere in the crew’s various safehouses.