What Was the Biggest Cash Heist in American History?

The biggest cash heist in American history took place in 1997, and it was nothing short of a Hollywood movie plot. The heist happened at the Dunbar Armored facility in Los Angeles, California, where a group of robbers managed to steal $18.9 million in cash. It was a meticulously planned and executed robbery that took months of preparation.

The Planning Phase

The heist was planned by Allen Pace, a former employee of Dunbar Armored. He recruited several individuals to help him with the robbery, including his girlfriend Michelle Johnson, his half-brother Scott Chambers, and several others.

The planning phase started with Pace gathering information about the Dunbar facility, its security measures, and the routines of its employees. He also managed to get his hands on keys that would allow him access to the vaults where the cash was stored.

The Robbery

On September 12th, 1997, the day of the robbery, Pace and his accomplices arrived at the Dunbar facility early in the morning. They had rented a nearby warehouse where they had set up a workshop to modify their weapons and create fake IDs.

Pace used his keys to enter the facility while wearing an armored vest and carrying an AK-47 assault rifle. He then disabled all of the alarms and opened the doors for his accomplices who were disguised as guards.

Once inside the vaults containing millions of dollars in cash were accessible to them. They loaded up bags with as much money as they could carry before making their escape.


The heist made headlines across America as one of the most daring robberies ever committed. However, it didn’t take long for law enforcement officials to track down Pace and his accomplices.

Pace was arrested soon after the robbery while trying to flee to Mexico. His girlfriend Michelle Johnson was also arrested, along with several others involved in the heist.

In the end, most of the money was never recovered, and only a small fraction of it was returned by those involved in the robbery.


The Dunbar Armored robbery remains one of the most significant cash heists in American history. It was a meticulously planned and executed operation that took months of preparation. However, it ultimately failed due to law enforcement officials’ quick action, leading to the arrest and conviction of several individuals involved.

  • Lessons Learned: This incident highlights how important it is to have strong security measures in place for facilities handling large amounts of cash. Companies should ensure that their employees are trustworthy and well-trained to deal with potential threats.
  • The Human Factor: The Dunbar Armored robbery also shows that even the most secure facilities can be vulnerable if someone on the inside decides to betray their employer.

It serves as a reminder that no organization is completely immune from criminal activity and that companies must take every precaution to prevent such incidents from occurring.