An infamous heist: Antique sale recalls Britain's biggest robbery

An infamous heist: Antique sale recalls Britain's biggest robbery

The daring heist that was Britain’s biggest robbery is recalled in the sale of a rare £1 million Treasury bill at Dix Noonan Webb in London on June 24.

A knifepoint daylight mugging resulted in the theft of a staggering £292 million in treasury bills.

Bought by financial institutions at less than face value and sold back to the government on maturity the secretive system of Treasury bills enabled the British government to manage short-term borrowing.

Bills were collected by messenger from the Bank of England and could be cashed in by whoever held them.

On May 2, 1990, John Goddard, a messenger with money brokers Sheppards, was mugged by a thief who got away with 301 Treasury bills and certificates of deposit.

Only the $1 billion theft from the Central Bank of Iraq by one of Saddam Hussein’s sons in 2003 has exceeded this robbery.

The City of London Police and the FBI infiltrated the gang involved in laundering the bills and eventually recovered all but two of them.

One man was jailed for his part, but Patrick Thomas, the petty criminal believed to have carried out the mugging, was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head before he could be charged.

The system is still in place today but computerised.

The last bills were produced in September 2003 and one of these comes up at the live online auction by Dix Noonan Webb.

Effectively a £1 million note it is on watermarked paper bearing the signature of Andrew Turnbull, then Permanent Secretary to the Treasury.

It is estimated at £5,000-£7,000.

The auction will feature 188 Irish banknotes, including a rare Munster and Leinster Bank £10 Ploughman’s Note from 1931 (£2,400-£3,000).

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