The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

The stupidest robbery in US history: how a disgruntled clerk kidnapped millions

'04.12.2020'

Source: Lenta.ru

The American worked for a multimillion dollar company and felt that he was underpaid. Once he was offered to arrange a robbery, and he willingly agreed. Strictly following the plan, he stole over $ 17 million. But due to the carelessness and greed of the accomplices, the robber never managed to enjoy his share of the wealth, says Lenta.ru.

Photo: Shutterstock

Morning after the robbery

At 7:15 am on October 5, 1997, a woman named Tammy Kent called the North Carolina State Police. She stated that her husband David Gant did not return home from work last night. She said that Gant worked as a cash vault manager for Loomis Fargo & Co, which transported cash between banks in North Carolina.

The Charlotte Police Station sent an officer to Loomis Fargo to investigate. Patrolmen examined the building and found a parked Gantt pickup truck outside the warehouse. The gate, like the front door, was open. To investigate the incident, representatives of the company were called.

Gant was nowhere to be found, and all the keys to the company's doors were gone, and the vault remained locked. No signs of hacking were found. A Loomis Fargo spokesman said Gant had been on duty the night before. He had to close the cash vault along with an intern he had recently taken on for training.

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Police seized the CCTV footage and saw Gant cleaning the vault for an hour. Because Loomis Fargo operated with bank money, the robbery was considered a federal crime. The FBI was involved in the investigation.

The agents did not have any leads or evidence to get on the trail of Gant and his accomplices. The authorities hoped that sooner or later the criminals would betray themselves when they began to carelessly spend large sums of cash.

(Not) perfect plan

Gant believed that the company, which had millions of dollars in turnover, was underpaid. At work, he befriended his married colleague Kelly Campbell. It was rumored that their relationship soon developed into a romantic one. Even when Campbell quit, the couple continued to meet in secret.

In the summer of 1997, Campbell crossed paths with her high school friend Steve Chambers. During the conversation, they got the idea to rob Loomis Fargo. Campbell shared the idea with Gant, and in August she and Chambers devised a robbery plan.

“I never thought about it until one day life, one might say, slapped me in the face. I sometimes worked 75-80 hours a week and received $ 8,15 an hour, barely showed up at home and felt miserable. It was like I was cornered, so I heard a joke about a robbery once did not seem incredible to me, ”David Gant explained his act.

On October 4, Gant was scheduled to be late after a shift, sent the intern home and took out $ 17,3 million in cash from the vault. He loaded the bags of money into an armored Loomis Fargo van parked outside the building. Campbell, Chambers and other conspirators were waiting for him on the street.

They traveled northwest of Charlotte to the Reynolds & Reynolds Printing House. There they transferred the money to a personal vehicle. Then, exactly as planned, Gant took $ 50 in cash (the maximum amount that could be transported across the border without additional permission) and left for the Mexican island of Cozumel.

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Chambers was assigned to look after the rest of the money and regularly send small sums of money to Gant for basic needs. By agreement, Gant was supposed to live in Mexico until the "hype dies down." Only then could he return to the United States and receive his share of the stolen money.

“I wasn’t happy with my life. I wanted drastic changes and got them, ”Gant admitted.

The hunt is on

Attorney Mark Calloway filed a case against Gant and charged him with stealing $ 17 million. He used CCTV footage as evidence. Gant's photo was circulated in the international press. The hunt began for him.

Screenshot: Real Stories / YouTube

The 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery was considered the second largest in the United States at that time. The largest robbery had occurred months earlier at the same company. Then one of the employees took out $ 18 million in cash from the vault. The FBI reviewed the past case, believing that Gant would follow the path of the previous robber Loomis Fargo.

FBI agents tried to establish the new location of the money as soon as possible. The former robber hid the stolen wealth in a warehouse. Hoping that Gant did the same, the agents searched the North Carolina vaults but found nothing.

Meanwhile, Gant was housed in a posh Mexican hotel, ate at fancy restaurants and wasted money on entertainment. However, when his reserves of money ran out, Chambers transferred only eight thousand dollars to him. After that, Gant began to live more economically.

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Once a local resident approached Gant and said that he looked like an American who robbed a bank for $ 20 million. In order not to attract attention in the future, he decided to change his appearance - he shaved off his mustache and beard.

First suspicions

Two days after the robbery, FBI agents found a Loomis Fargo van with nearly $ 3,3 million in the trunk - an amount that would not fit in the robbers' personal car. In addition, agents examined Gant's pickup truck and removed his wedding ring from the ashtray. They suggested that in this way the fugitive announced his desire to divorce Kent.

During interrogation, his wife claimed that she did not notice anything suspicious about her husband. According to her, Gant worked hard to make ends meet, as money was always scarce. Kent believed that her husband could not commit such a crime, and believed that he was either forced or kidnapped and even killed.

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The Federal Bureau also interviewed Gant's colleagues in hopes of finding clues. So they found out about his accomplice - Kelly Campbell.

Agents came to Campbell for questioning. The woman claimed that she almost did not communicate with Gant and did not keep in touch with him after being fired. Even then, the FBI began to suspect something was wrong, since her testimony was fundamentally different from the stories of Loomis Fargo workers.

The Bureau of Investigation found that during the robbery, Gant contacted someone on the phone. Consequently, he was not acting alone. Agents had only to guess the names of his accomplices.

David Gant. Screenshot: Real Stories / YouTube

Representatives of Loomis Fargo have promised a reward of half a million dollars for any information on the case. Soon, a local resident anonymously informed the police that a certain Eric Payne was spending a suspiciously large amount of cash. He bought a car and flew first class on vacation. According to the stories of his colleagues, he began to scatter money after receiving a large inheritance.

Agents found it odd that Payne was working close to where the Loomis Fargo armored vehicle had been found, at the Reynolds & Reynolds printing house. The FBI decided to wait for the man to return from vacation and interrogate him.

At the same time, agents noticed other suspicious activity. A few kilometers from Charlotte, Steve Chambers and his wife Michelle bought a house for $ 600 in cash. It turned out that the couple have made several major purchases in recent weeks, including a truck and a two-seater BMW Z3 sports car.

Chambers

Initially, the accomplices of the robbery agreed to be moderate in their expenses for two years. They hoped the authorities would not track suspiciously large spending beyond this period. However, Chambers did not intend to follow this agreement, believing that the FBI would never reveal his involvement in the robbery.

At first, the authorities did not really see the connection between the Chambers family and the robbery. The spouses were nevertheless placed under surveillance, as they were suspected of drug trafficking. Michelle Chambers told her new neighbors that her husband is a retired professional soccer player who owns several laundry rooms in Texas.

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As Chambers continued to mindlessly siphoning off cash, the police began to question their involvement in the Loomis Fargo robbery. An FBI agent brought into the case found out that Steve Chambers was not a football player, but a petty fraudster who was involved in drug trafficking in the past.

One day, Chambers rioted a local bar. To make amends, he offered to buy out the institution for 400 thousand dollars, and he was going to pay in cash. The Federal Bureau's suspicions grew, but they could not yet prove that Chambers was spending the money Gant had taken out of the vault.

FBI agents delved into Chambers' biography and discovered that he went to the same school with Gant's girlfriend, Kelly Campbell. The patrol officers decided to interrogate her again and insist on an interview using a lie detector. Campbell refused to the last, but eventually agreed. During the interrogation, she behaved nervously and was constantly distracted by her pager and phone, so the agents were never able to obtain useful information.

Three months later, agents spotted Campbell driving a new minivan. They punched a license plate and identified the owner of the car, Steve Chambers.

Careless joke

The FBI closely monitored bank transactions and tried to find those that could be related to the robbery.

Michelle Chambers deposited small amounts of money in a bank account so as not to arouse suspicion. One day, she asked a bank employee how much money she could have deposited so that the bank would not have to report it to the feds. “Don't worry, this is not drug money,” she added. The client's jokes alerted the bank employee. He completed a suspicious activity report, which was later passed on to the FBI.

In January 1998, Michelle returned to the bank to deposit $ XNUMX. This time, FBI agents watched her actions. The woman handed the bank teller a packet of bills wrapped in Loomis Fargo ribbons.

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So the FBI established the involvement of the Chambers spouses in the 1997 robbery. However, they did not arrest the couple. Instead, on February 10, agents obtained permission to install wiretapping devices wherever the Chambers family appeared. The agents soon became convinced that Chambers and Campbell were accomplices, and Gant was hiding in an unknown location.

In one of the phone conversations, Gant confessed his love to Campbell and said that he was looking forward to her on the Mexican island of Cozumel. Agents also learned that Chambers had sent hitman Michael McKinney to Mexico to get rid of Gant. The FBI needed to act quickly.

Приговор

On March 1, 1998, five months after the robbery, FBI agents and Mexican police detained Gant in Playa del Carmen. The next day, the Chambers couple, Campbell and four other accomplices were arrested.

On March 12, a Charlotte court accused eight accomplices of a bank robbery and money laundering. Thirteen acquaintances and relatives of the robbers were also arrested and helped to keep money in bank vaults. All but Chambers' lawyer, Jeff Guller, pleaded guilty. He was jailed for eight years for money laundering.

Eric Payne was imprisoned for six and a half years. It turned out that he received 100 thousand dollars from Chambers for helping to hide the stolen money.

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Friends and relatives who laundered money received probationary periods. Chambers was sentenced to 11 years and 3 months in prison and ordered to pay a $ 3,5 million fine. He was released in November 2006. Gant was imprisoned for seven years and six months and was fined $ 26. In 2006 he was released.

Michelle Chambers violated several conditions of being released on bail, so she received a harsher sentence than Gant. She was jailed for seven years and eight months. Campbell was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison. Killer Michael McKinney was jailed for 11 years and six months for conspiracy and attempt to kill Gant.

According to the FBI, more than two million dollars taken out of the Loomis Fargo vault have never been found.

The defendants became the subject of cruel jokes not only among the residents of Charlotte, but throughout the United States. As a rule, people ridiculed the silly and extravagant spending of the robbers and the ineptly thought out plan. The robbery was called a village robbery, since almost all the main accomplices in the crime came from small towns on the outskirts of Charlotte.

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