A Cheektowaga man has been charged in connection to three bank robberies in Western New York.  But his heists are small change compared to these three bank robberies that took place in New York.

The 52-year-old man, Thomas Blachowski, was arrested for allegedly robbing three Citizens Bank branches in the past week, according to WGRZ.

March 18 - 700 Thruway Plaza Drive inside Tops Market

March 18 - 1722 Walden Avenue in the Target Plaza

March 21 - 3865 Union Road

Blachowski is allegedly a serial bank robber, he was served time in prison for a 2019 bank robbery.

Obviously, New York has seen its fair share of bank heists from small-time criminals to robbery experts. Three of the largest value robberies were right here in New York. One of the deadliest bank robberies also took place in the state.

Top 3 Largest Bank Heists In New York

1. Bank of America Robbery
January 14, 1998
$1.6 million ($2.7 million today)

In 1998, a petty criminal named Ralph Guarino planned the robbery of the Bank of America in 1 World Trade Center, in New York City.  It was an inside job; he collaborated with Salvatore Calciano, who worked at the World Trade Center. Three other men were involved - Richie Gillette, Melvin Folk, and Mike Reed. The heist began at 8:30 am and only took 15-minutes to complete.

In the aftermath of the robbery, Folk and Reed returned to their old neighborhoods and were quickly identified and captured. Gillette was questioned by security after boarding an Amtrak train but was not detained at the time. He was later found and arrested in Albuquerque, New Mexico, two days later, at 8:30 pm. January 16. The FBI did not believe the three had acted alone and began to search for a mastermind. Guarino had various ideas of how to get rid of the money but ultimately was unable to follow through on any plans before FBI agents came to arrest him at his Staten Island home. Following his arrest, Guarino agreed to become an FBI informant on the DeCavalcante mafia family.

2. Lufthansa Heist
December 11, 1978
$5.875 million ($25.1 million today)

In 1978, the Lucchese crime family carried out the Lufthansa Heist at JFK International Airport. Lufthansa was the largest airline in Germany, flew money to its cargo terminal at the airport. The mastermind behind the heist was Jimmy Burke, an associate of the family.  He was accompanied by six men - Tommy DeSimone, Angelo Sepe, Louis Cafora, Joe Manri, Paolo LiCastri, and Robert McMahon. The robbery began at 3 am.  The crooks got away with $5.875 million, the equivalent of $225.1 million in 2020. The money has never been located.

Parnell "Stacks" Edwards had failed to get rid of the van that had been used in the heist. Edwards was supposed to have driven the vehicle to New Jersey, where it (along with any potential evidence inside) was to be destroyed in a junk yard belonging to John Gotti. Instead, Edwards parked the van in front of a fire hydrant at his girlfriend's apartment, where police discovered it two days after the heist. Paul Vario subsequently ordered DeSimone to kill Edwards. Once he found out where Edwards was hiding, DeSimone and Angelo Sepe visited Edwards and shot him five times in the head. From the van, fingerprints were lifted of several perpetrators of the robbery.

More than 9 other associates involved with planning and carrying out the heist were murdered on orders from Burke, who wanted to eliminate anyone who could implicate him.

Credit: Burt Cockley via Youtube

3. Manhattan Savings Institution
October 27, 1878
$2.5 million ($67 million today)

The Manhattan Savings Institution robbery was masterminded by George Leonidas Leslie and executed by Jimmy Hope, Samuel Perris, and other associates.  The bank was located at Bleecker Street and Broadway in New York City. The heist began around 6 am. The robbers forced the bank's janitor, who lived in an apartment in the building, to give them the vault combination. In total, the men got away with $2.5 million, which is equivalent to $67 million today. The amount included $12,000 in cash and the rest was in securities.

One Of The Deadliest Bank Robberies

1981 Brink's Robbery
October 20, 1981
$1.6 million ($4.9 million today)

In 1981, the robbery of a Brink's Armored truck resulted in the murders of three people and subsequent deaths of two members. Black Liberation Army members and former members of the Weather Underground were behind the heist. The group was able to steal $1.6 million in cash, the equivalent of $4.9 million today at the Nanuet Mall, in Nanuet, New York. One of the Brink's guards, Peter Paige, was killed, along with two Nyack police officers, Edward O'Grady and Waverly Brown. Police Detective Artie Keenan and Brink's guard Joseph Trombino were both seriously wounded. The Brink's truck driver, James Kelly, received only minor injuries. Mtayari Sundiata, a member of the Black Liberation Army was killed in a shootout with police as they tried to capture him three days after the robbery. Mutulu Shakur, was the alleged ringleader and other members of the heist group included David Gilbert, Kuwasi Balagoon, Samuel Brown, Mtayari Sundiata, Sekou Odinga, Judith Alice Clark, Kathy Boudin, and Marilyn Buck.

Credit: The FBI Files via Youtube

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