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City of Banjul
Sunday, March 3, 2024

Heists Sans Frontiers

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You see, the movies do that to you. They find a way to make the most senseless and ruthless things feel okay. Movies like “Gone in 60 seconds” come to mind as one of the many that inspire theft in its crudest yet most intelligent sense. 

However, the movies have failed to paint the true stories of some of the world’s most successful heists. I took it upon myself to do my research which you’ll soon discover was inspired by local events. 

In 2003, the Antwerp diamond centre was robbed off $100 million (which was later discovered to be $20 million) by Leonardo Notarbartolo who spent three years figuring out his way through a system of steel sophisticated locks that required the work of a patient, genius thief. After three years of careful planning, he executed his blueprint and was able to unlock 123 out of 160 safe deposit boxes! 

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In 1990, as Boston celebrated St. Patricks day (you haven’t seen a true celebration until you’ve seen a St Patricks day celebration with the heavy glass beers and the “mornings after”), two thieves dressed as Police Officers broke into the museum and stole $500 million worth of art. The theft still remains unsolved and is ranked one of the biggest heists in the history of thievery ever. 

Now I do not condone theft and do not feel that anyone should ever involve themselves in a criminal act (No way I’m incriminating myself), but some thievery are either so calculated or so desperately funny that you just have to respect the creativity that comes with them. 

However, when the act seems chaotic and has the stench of stupidity all over it, one is faced with the kind of anger that I experienced the other day when I went to my favourite restaurant for lunch and was forced to wait for a staggering two hours before I got it. Bilai beuss bobu laa display…ba fofu di horteh ku!

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Going through the papers the other day, I learnt of a heist in Jollof! Yes you read right! A Heist! Now don’t get me wrong. Over the last few years some very incredible thefts have occurred in the smiling coast. As much as a lot of these are not publicised for obvious reasons, I am reminded of the thieves that “allegedly” broke into the Number 1 Sports Shop after what seemed like serious planning and got away with quite a bit of cash and jewels. It was rumoured that they even had time to change into some new attire which were on display for sale at the shop. Bilai Saacha Katt yoyu denj hamadi.

I have also heard of a number of amazing scams that leave you wondering where all these smart people are hiding and why they cannot join the positive side of this struggle to make a difference in people’s lives. Some of our thefts have been pretty amazing (bad amazing not good amazing) and you are left shrugging even when you’re caught on the other side of those acts.

Oh I almost lost myself there…the recent heist. So this lady, (who I’ve been told I’ve seen a few times BEFORE all of this happened) was tasked to bank over $100,000 worth of cash as had been customary for quite a while. My first issue is with the company that tasked her to do this. So I know that in the global world of money making, that amount of cheddar has been used as toilet paper, but in The Gambia!?!?!?!? How on God’s green earth do you give that much money to an employee to bank without an official driver or escort? Is she the CEO’s mother…Or wife? I mean some men wouldn’t even trust their wives with a tenth of that amount let alone an employee! $100,000! The more I say it the more infuriated I get. I know a few people who could do with that amount of money right now! I just finished a budget for something and that is just the amount of money that will finance the ENTIRE project! But No…you decided it was chicken change and it was okay for an employee who I am sure earns a few hundred  dollars to be the custodian of your “chicken change”. It would take some serious mental battles to resist the urge. Bilai njii denj tonj haleh bi. I know there is no excuse possible but come on!!! Do you see what I see?

So they entrust that much money with the young lady who turns out to have an IQ of about 60. Young lady with cash in hand (yes cash!) decides to take $3,000 with her to “foreign” and leaves the rest (a staggering $97,000) with her “not so smart either” boyfriend. Wai bilai njupit dafa am! You steal 4 million Gambian dalasis worth of dollars from your employer and like a Nigerian movie you must have seen at the Video Club few weeks before, you decide to leave the money with your boyfriend whilst you leave the country in search of a plan. Didn’t you think of a plan BEFORE you took the money??? Talk of putting the cart before the horse. So apparently, the boyfriend took her across the border and came back with almost all the money awaiting her instructions. Bilai man bobu mor ma day tass! When the police got to him, they could not only get the boyfriend and find out where the girlfriend was (or is) but recovered all of the $97,000. Haleh bu gorr bi morm goreh na deh.

To all the women complaining of the lack of loyal men in this country of ours, I ask you to take this young man as an example (*laughs uncontrollably*). He was given investment capital by his girlfriend to keep until further notice and the puppy in him obliged. Ana nju fi daan wakh ne goor yu baakh yi jeex nenj? See how Mr. Man here has proven all of your wrong. 97,000 United States Dollars! Paco bi didn’t even use D2000 to replace the fuel he used to take Mrs. Woman across the border. I wish the police could disclose where he had kept the money. I am going for a wild guess here in saying he kept it under his bed…or maybe like O.J. Simpson, in the trunk of his car (It was O.J. right?…my memory fails me yet again).

I have been extremely impressed with the Police Force recently, save for a few out of the ordinary altercations that seriously need fixing. There has been quite a bit of growth in police-civilian relations and in the way they have handled some very interesting cases. However, I am sure when they got the case from Euro-Africaine group their first thought was, “ah that girl is chilling somewhere in Cape Verde by now”. Ndeke woo, cheppeh girl was chilling in Bissau whilst the money was hiding under her boyfriend’s bed in Jollof. If I was one of the arresting officers, BILAI I would have slapped the boyfriend three times. The first one for allowing his girlfriend to do the unethical act of stealing her employer’s money (I need to score some points with the parents you know), the second one for taking the risk of driving her across the border; the third for allowing her to give him the $97,000 whilst he had to come back to Jollof; the fourth for not spending even a hundred dalasis from the money and the fifth for underestimating the Gambia Police Force so much that he believed that they would not be caught. Oooops make that 5 slaps!

So now, I suppose the boyfriend is involved as an accomplice (or can he claim to have been acting as a bank?), the money has been returned to the company, the girl is chilling on the beautifully lit highways of Bissau and the Gambia Police Force has won a serious accomplishment medal and a brand new car for their effectiveness and efficiency…all is well in the world and there is peace in The Middle East.

I read of a heist once which I ranked the most stupid in the history of thievery. In 1963 about $2.5million (which is worth over 40 million US Dollars today) was stolen off a post-office train in England. I am sure they didn’t consider it stealing since the money was off for incineration. However, they would have still used it wouldn’t they? Well the thieves found a nearby barn and decided to have fun by playing Monopoly with the stash. As you can imagine, they got caught. That to me was the most stupid heist ever, only rivalled by one or two others. As of this week however, The Gambian Heist has become my favourite.

With criminals like these, who needs Priests, or Imams? So we have never been to the African Cup of Nations, Never competed well at the Olympics, Never been Secretary General at the UN, and we’re even robbed of our chance to join the elites of heist-dom? We cannot even steal money properly? Wail lii daww na yaram deh.

Ok don’t criminalise my statements. Stealing is bad! Stealing is VERY VERY BAD! But if you feel that you must join the criminal world of thievery, you can at least do it right.

An attempt was made on the Crown Jewels of England decades ago by an Irish Assassin who wanted to give robbery a go. He executed the plan in such a comical fashion that when he was caught, King Charles II was so amused by his attempt that a royal pardon was accorded to him plus a nice piece of property in Ireland. I believe the reward and pardon was well deserved. I think some criminal acts only exist to entertain the world out of boredom, but when they border on the ludicrous however, what can one do?

I will join many in congratulating the Gambia Police Force for proving the boyfriend wrong. I am sure getting caught was the last thing on his mind as he started imagining the many pleasures 4 million dalasis could accord him. The act of stealing itself is sickening. However, if you’re not Robin Hood, Thomas Blood or Leonardo Notarbartolo, or at least have the potential to enter the Guinness book of world records as a really smart unsolved mystery, do desist from even thinking about getting away with a 10 dalasis heist. Bilai yen sen aferr-a ma nahari!






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