Photo by New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection via Library of Congress
We’ve revisited the scenes of prominent murders and suicides throughout New York City. While stories of gangster shootings are always a headliner, here we take a look at crimes of a different breed, from heists that have inspired movies to a deadly terrorist attack in 1920 whose traces still remain.
5. JFK Airport Building 261
Sometimes real life is as strange as a movie. JFK was the site of the largest robbery of cash on American soil: the Lufthansa heist, featured in Martin Scorcese’s Goodfellas. In December 1978, thieves from the Lucchese crime family snuck into cargo building 261 at 3 a.m. Just over an hour later, they got away with $5 million in cash and $875,000 in jewelry, a combined $21 million in today’s money. After the heist, organizer Jimmy “The Gent” Burke ordered the murder of many of the participants in order to keep them quiet. He was later convicted of one of those murders and sentenced to life in prison.
With such heavy airport security now, could the thieves have carried out the heist today? That’s not a hypothetical, as apparently they could. In November 2012, two thieves made off with 3,600 iPad mini’s (valued between $1.5 and $1.9 million) from the same cargo building the Lufthansa robbers targeted. The iPads had just arrived from China and were supposed to be shipped throughout the US. Police later arrested a JFK worker for the robbery, but it’s unknown if the iPads were ever recovered.