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Wilhelm Voigt May Have Committed The Most Ridiculous Robbery In History

A German career criminal pulled off a shocking heist that made global headlines in 1906

Andrew Martin
3 min readJun 15, 2024

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Thieves commit daring robberies around the world every day. Most are rather run of the mill crimes, but occasionally some show true innovation and ingenuity. One that was on another level altogether occurred more than a century ago when a German con man named Wilhelm Voigt pulled off a heist that just might be the most ridiculous and brazen in recorded history.

Born in Prussia in 1849, he was in trouble from a young age. The son of a shoemaker, when he was 14 he was expelled from school and also sentenced to 14 days in jail for theft. Instead of learning his father’s craft and turning it into a career, he veered fully into criminal life. He was imprisoned for much of the next quarter century due to repeated forgeries and thefts. This included serving a 15-year sentence for burglarizing a court cashier’s office.

Upon his release, he effectively became a drifter, sometimes working for shoemakers. However, local authorities also occasionally ejected him from their municipalities because of his criminal past, which made him undesirable.

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Andrew Martin

Dabbler in history, investing & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about history, diversity, culture, sports, film and investing .