Questions remain about Easter heist from Sylmar facility

ByCarlos Granda, Michelle Fisher, and staff KABC logo
Friday, April 5, 2024
How did thieves pull off one of the biggest heists in SoCal history?
Security experts say it must've taken a sophisticated crew, possibly one with inside knowledge, to steal millions of dollars from a secure storage facility in Sylmar.

SYLMAR, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's one of the largest heists in U.S. history - and how exactly it unfolded remains an intriguing mystery.

Tens of millions of dollars in cash were stolen from a supposedly secure storage facility in Sylmar on Easter. Apparently no alarms were triggered and the theft wasn't even discovered until the next morning.

A security expert said pulling off a daring heist like this - with that amount of cash to carry out - would require a sophisticated operation involving multiple crew members and knowledge of the system.

"I think anybody who hears this story, the first thing they think of is this had to be an inside job," said Jim McDonnell, the former Los Angeles County sheriff who now heads the Safe Communities Institute at USC.

Security experts say it must've taken a sophisticated crew, possibly one with inside knowledge, to steal millions of dollars from a secure storage facility in Sylmar.

"The support system necessary to be able to get that kind of cash out there as well is pretty significant," he added. "You can't do it with one or two people. And the fact that it went undetected until open of business Monday morning again says how professional they were."

The money was stolen from a GardaWorld facility. It is believed the thieves got in through the roof, although a boarded-up hole on the side of the building was also connected to the heist, according to law enforcement.

The FBI and LAPD are investigating.

The LAPD and the FBI are investigating the theft of tens of millions of dollars from a money storage facility in Sylmar on Easter Sunday, sources say.

Unanswered questions

Canadian-based GardaWorld says it provides vault services, secure transit and other services for businesses and financial institutions. The firm employs more than 130,000 people worldwide.

The clients that the money belonged to have not been disclosed.

Another unanswered question is whether the money was insured.

Also, the exact dollar amount taken has not been confirmed. Some media outlets reported $30 million but law enforcement sources told ABC News the final figure may end up being lower than that.

Other big SoCal heists

The job likely ranks among the largest thefts in U.S. history.

Several of the other biggest jobs have also been pulled in Southern California. Among them:

In 1997, nearly $19 million was robbed from the Dunbar Armored facility in downtown Los Angeles. The six-man crew was caught, arrested and convicted several years later and it was discovered that a company security official had orchestrated the job.

In 2022, millions of dollars in jewelry were stolen from a Brink's armored truck which had pulled over in Lebec. The exact value of the jewels was in dispute, with the jewelers saying they were worth $100 million or more, but Brinks saying insurance paperwork indicated they were valued at less than $10 million. The suspects have not been caught.

Bodycam video shows moments after millions in jewelry stolen from Brink's truck in Lebec

In 1972, an estimated $9-12 million was stolen from a United California Bank in Orange County, by thieves who were chasing rumors of up to $30 million in Richard Nixon illegal campaign funds being stashed there.

The suspects, who came from Ohio to pull the job, were later caught and convicted. The 2019 film "Finding Steve McQueen" was based on that heist.

Thieves try to steal a fortune in illegal campaign contributions in the new fact-based movie, "Finding Steve McQueen."