Catching up on newspapers today, I noticed a WSJ review of a new book by Henry Hill and Daniel Simone entitled The Lufthansa Heist. Intrigued, I read up on it and apparently I need to watch the film Goodfellas…
Here’s how it briefly went down — an airport worker trying to settle about $20K in debt told his bookie who told the mob that a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to New York (LH404, still operating today) routinely arrived with a lot of cash from American soldiers that was stored in a vault in Kennedy Airport.
One bright blue 1978 day, in a little more than hour and without having to even fire a gun, a masked band of thieves escaped with jewellery and cash totaling $6mn, or about $21mn in today’s dollars. No one was ever caught. Why? Because Jimmy Burke, a Lucchese family crime figure, killed everyone involved before they could rat him out. He was put in a prison on an unrelated matter and eventually died there. The Lufthansa case has never really been solved.
Moral of the story: get insurance if you’re sending valuables on a commercial airliner!