Cat burglars, or thieves who specialize in breaking into homes or other properties to steal things, are crafty and cunning. While strong locks and a good home security system can help keep them at bay, some cat burglars are more determined than others. Here’s a look at the exploits of 4 infamous cat burglars.
Charles Peace was born in Sheffield, England, in 1832. He turned to a life of crime following his injury in an industrial accident as a boy. Peace murdered two people, but he was best known for his thousands of burglaries across England. Peace fascinated the local populace as he was by all accounts a respected businessman and a talented, seemingly mild-mannered violinist. Charles Peace was convicted of murder and executed at the age of 46.
Anthony Spilotro was part of the Mafia that infamously ran Las Vegas in the 1970s and 1980s, but he wasn’t content with running “The Skim,” a scam in which Mafia families avoided taxes by stealing their own money. So Spilotro teamed up with his brother and eight associates to form a gang specializing in high-profile heists.
Spilotro and his gang gained entry by drilling through the outer walls of businesses and then cracking their safes. They then laundered the money through their many companies. Spilotro’s gang was quite profitable for awhile, until a botched robbery ended in the arrest of most of the gang. Spilotro escaped conviction but was murdered by his associates.
Also during the 1970s and 1980s, but on the other side of the country, Florida burglar Bill Mason was making his mark. As chronicled in his book, “Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief,” Mason focused on celebrity apartments, which he often accessed by climbing high-rises. Of course, he admits in his book that sometimes he simply went in through an unlocked door. Mason served numerous jail sentences, and the majority of the money he stole was confiscated, but it is believed that he kept a sizable stash from burglaries for which he was never convicted.
Italian burglar Leonardo Notarbartolo also got his start in the 1970s, though his crime career continued into the 2000s. He ran a gang known as the “School of Turin” who specialized in safecracking, lockpicking, and scaling buildings. They were responsible for a number of high-profile burglaries, but none so notable as their nearly $100 million heist from the Antwerp Diamond Centre vaults in 2003. That one was also their undoing, as a half-eaten sandwich Notarbartolo left at the scene contained DNA evidence leading to his arrest.
Notarbartolo was paroled in 2009, and then arrested again when police found uncut jewels in his car. They couldn’t prove the jewels were from the Antwerp Diamond robbery, though, so the jewels were returned and Notarbartolo is a free man today.
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