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Gone Gang: The Group That Got Away With Back-to-Back Heists—Then Vanished
In June 1986, a group of men riding all-terrain vehicles slipped unseen into the city’s underground storm drain system, heading for the First Interstate Bank at Spaulding and Sunset. They carried gas-powered generators, hammer drills, power saws, and—most important—digging equipment, which they used to tunnel their way 100 feet up and into the bank’s vault. They made off with $172,000, a Matisse, and a reputation for audacity. The following year the gang hit the Bank of America at Pico and La Cienega, grabbed $98,000, and then vanished forever, though tips continued to pour into the FBI: The thieves were Vietnam vets, familiar with the Viet Cong’s tunnel systems, or maybe they were actual ex-V.C. or mole people—troglodytes who inhabit the sewers yet still know how to get their hands on a $2,000 diamond-infused drill bit. Whoever they were, they were smart enough to know when to quit. The vault’s alarm had been tripped in the second heist—perhaps the reason that when a third tunnel was eventually unearthed in Beverly Hills, it was found abandoned.