A man in New York City saw an armored truck, an unguarded bucket and an opportunity. With little hesitation he took a chance — and the bucket. Video surfaced this week by New York's WNBC shows the thief raiding a briefly unguarded armored truck and making off with the pail, which happened to be holding gold flakes worth some $1.6 million.
Despite the massive value of the bucket's contents, police apparently believe the swipe wasn't premeditated, rather a heist driven by happenstance. The man seemingly took advantage of an about 20-second window during which one guard was making a drop-off and the other was heading to the front of the armored truck to grab his cell phone.
The September theft took place in broad daylight on West 48th Street in New York City's Diamond District. The video shows the man keeping an eye on the truck. He seems to notice the guards have left the back of the truck open and unattended. He then cautiously grabs the bucket and starts to run off with it.
"I think he just saw an opportunity, took the pail and walked off," NYPD Det. Martin Pastor told WNBC.
The get-away wasn't even particularly speedy, considering the man was on foot moving through crowded streets. The bucket also weighed about 86 pounds. In fact, the surveillance video shows the man taking a rest on the sidewalk, sitting the bucket the down to catch his breath. It took the thief an hour to go just half a mile with the $1.6 worth of gold, WNBC reported. The guards apparently didn't notice the bucket was missing.
Police believe the thief — described as a 50-60 year-old Hispanic man who is about 5 feet 6 inches tall and about 150 pounds — was likely surprised by the value of the bucket he swiped. "I think when the lucky charm opened up the bucket, he seen the rainbow and seen the gold."
Thieves have accidentally made off with massive amounts of gold in the past. In fact, one of Britain's most famous crimes was an accidental gold heist. Thieves made off with 3.9 tons of gold from a Brink's-Mat warehouse outside of London's Heathrow Airport in 1983. The criminals expected to make off with cash but instead found the gold worth about $112 million in current U.S. dollars, according to an Atlas Obscura article this year. The theft that was an accident of sorts was then dubbed the "crime of the century."