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Thursday, 3 May, 2001, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Flashback: The Great Train Robbery
The train was halted by tampered signals
The train was halted by tampered signals
The Great Train Robbery was the most famous heist in an era that made celebrities of some high profile criminals.

The gang, taking inspiration from the rail robberies of the Wild West, raided the Glasgow to London mail train and made off with 2.6m in used bank notes.

The audacious nature of the crime - even though driver Jack Mills was coshed with an iron bar - and their flight from justice made them as famous as the Hole in the Wall gang, who decades earlier had become the original Great Train Robbers.

Bruce Reynolds: Sentenced to 10 years
Bruce Reynolds: Sentenced to 10 years
The mastermind was Bruce Reynolds, a known armed burglar.

Using inside information on the movement of valuables, he assembled a gang to intercept a night train in a quiet part of Buckinghamshire.

On 8 August 1963, fifteen men wearing ski masks and helmets swarmed onto the train and grabbed 120 bags full of money - a record haul.

The scale and style of the heist captivated Britain and a huge police operation was launched.

They found the gang's abandoned hideout in nearby Leatherslade Farm - with fingerprints still in tact.

Members of the gang were sentenced to a total of 300 years. Reynolds, eventually found after five years on the run, was given 10 years for masterminding the crime.

But it was Ronnie Biggs that became its most famous member, and Britain's most notorious fugitive.

Escape

After escaping from Wandsworth Prison in a furniture van after just 15 months in jail, he fled the country.

He used plastic surgery to change his appearance and moved to Spain, Australia, and then Brazil.

Repeated attempts to extradite him back to Britain failed as the heist gained cult status.

Fellow robber Buster Edwards gave himself up after fleeing to Mexico for three years. His exploits were portrayed by Phil Collins in the hit film Buster.

Jack Mills never returned to work and died in 1970 without ever making a full recovery.

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23 Dec 00 | UK
Great heists of our time
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