Theft is wrong, morally. It’s one of the basic tenants of being a “good” person – don’t take things that don’t belong to you. It’s also disturbingly common. While some theft is petty, like shoplifting a fancy lipstick, and some is for survival like stealing food, a lot of it is just bad people taking instead of earning. That said, it’s still sometimes really…impressive…both the ability to steal large objects and the determination of those who dare to. Here are 25 Biggest Things Ever Stolen.
The World's Largest Egg Hat
The World’s Largest Egg Hat containing over 1,000 eggs (yes, it’s a thing) was stolen in Germany while its owner, one Greg De Silva was there on Holiday. Mr. De Silva ended up in the hospital for heat stroke, and when he went back to retrieve his hat after being released, it was gone. It’s a shame, it was truly an eggtraordinary headpiece.
In early 2017, a large, inflatable Kong (holding a car above his head) was stolen from a Texas car dealership. The thing was 12 ft tall and cost around 10 grand. First of all, why? Second of all, giant inflatable things cost HOW MUCH?
WWII Mustang Fighter Plane
In 1992, an Israeli Air Force Reservist named Major Ishmael Yitzhaki told a museum that their WWII Mustang fighter plane needed a new coat of paint. Being the trusting sort, the museum said, “Sure, that sounds great!” and Yitzhaki wheeled it out the of the museum, flew it – flew the WWII fighter plane – to Sweden where he sold it (for over $300,000).
Bathroom Condom Machine
In 1994, a man in Waterford, Michigan stole an entire condom machine from the bathroom in a pub. He literally just carried it out of the pub, which considering the size of those things, is both awkward and impressive.
Buddhist Monastery Bell Ball
In 2005, the ball from the inside of a Buddhist monastery bell was stolen in Washington State. The thieves were caught trying to sell the 3,000 pound piece for scrap metal.
90,000 Pounds of Manhole Covers
In 1990, a man in LA stole 300 manhole covers. The covers weigh up to 300 lbs each, and he was selling them for scrap for around $6 ea. Let’s see, 300 x 300 = 90,000 pounds of manhole covers for potentially $1,800 in profit. That seems like a difficult way to go about things.
Specifically, Sue, the largest and most intact T-Rex ever found. In 1990, a group of workers from the Black Hills Institute in South Dakota found Sue. It’s important to note that before she was completely removed from the ground, the Black Hills Institute paid $5,000 for Sue and the permission to remove her. Other dinosaurs and fossils had been removed from the area beforehand with no argument. This was fine and dandy, until Maurice Williams, the man who lived on the Indian Reservation Sue was taken from, realized how valuable Sue was, and stole her back via the Government. They literally showed up with warrants and took her, and the judge said they couldn’t take her because he ruled she was land, not a person property of Williams. She was then returned to Williams who sold her for many millions of dollars. It’s still stealing if the Government does it, as laws don’t determine morality. You can find out more of Sue’s story in the documentary Dinosaur 13. She’s now on display in the Field Museum in Chicago, despite being discovered, and lovingly taken out of the earth by the Black Hills Institute.
A Stone Bridge Dating Back to the Qing Dynasty
A stone bridge dating back to the Qing Dynasty was stolen in Shanghai overnight and sold to a garden company in 2012. The bridge was over 100 years old, had been listed as a protected cultural relic in 2008, and was, again, made of stone.
A Huge Chunk of a Beach
Part of a beach – several hundred tons of it – was stolen in Jamaica in 2008. About 500 truck loads worth of sand was stolen from Coral Spring Beach, and police have no idea who took it.
Luxury Yachts: Alter Ego and Zula
In July of 2016, two luxury yachts worth over $4 Million USD were stolen from a marina in Dubai. The yachts, named Alter Ego and Zula, were used for tourist and day trips, and weren’t reported stolen until a week after they disappeared. They are now believed to be in the Philippines, though they are also believed to sometimes be used to drug trafficking in various parts of the world.
Construction Equipment – as in Loaders, Tractors, Backhoes and forklifts – get stolen with alarming regularity. To the point that there’s a website dedicated to listing and attempting to recover stolen heavy equipment.
The U.S. Federal Government, as well as local governments, steal millions of acres in land every year. The EPA may stipulate that you can no longer have a cow pond, fine you several million dollars, and seize your property if you fail to pay. The government recently claimed in Texas that hundreds of thousands of acres along a river were public property, so people who live in houses built there are now illegally squatting on “public land,” despite that land being theirs, and the homes being built by their families generations ago; Trump’s wall may be built over private land; Obama seized over one and a half million acres to form two new monuments in Utah in early 2017. Local governments infringe on privately owned property for sidewalks, roads, and utilities with alarming regularity, and there’s honestly not a blessed thing any of us plebeians can do about it. It’s called Eminent Domain, and what it boils down to is this: if the government wants your stuff, you can’t keep it.
800-Year-Old Red Cedar Tree
Clever thieves managed to steal an 800 year old red cedar tree that was one of the largest in the Vancouver Island area in 2012. What made it so clever? First, they cut through most of the tree, so that park officials would deem it unsafe to remain standing. Once the tree went down, the plan (by the park) was to let it decompose naturally in the forest. It was then that thieves came back and stole the tree, the wood of which was worth thousands of dollars. Clever. Horrific and depressing and pretty darn evil, but clever.
A Solar-Powered Apothecary
In 2016, a couple in Calgary had their solar-powered apothecary stolen. The couple forged all over British Colombia for plants that could be used for skin products and then created those products in their solar powered, plant based, lab on wheels. Thankfully, Boreal Folk Apothecary had their goods recovered and returned.
A man who had nothing to lose stole an M60 tank from the California Army National Guard Armory in May of 1995. He ran over everything he could at the tank’s max speed of 30 MPH for 23 minutes until the police surrounded him, and sadly he was shot.
Cattle & Sheep
In June of 2015, 75 head of cattle and 25 sheep were stolen from an Irish farm. Not only is that impressive and weird, it’s also costly. They were taken from a small farm, where many of the animals had been born and raised; small family farms generally cannot handle a financial hit like that. It was the biggest single theft of livestock ever in the Republic of Ireland. How do you not notice someone taking 75 cattle?
Cast Iron Building Facade
In June of 1974, a 126-year-old cast iron building facade weighing around 4 tons was stolen in New York. It had been disassembled for preservation, and the theft was only discovered because the thieves were caught trying to take the last piece. They were from the Bogardus Building, which stood in what is now Tribeca. Sadly, the building and the intersection in which it stood are no longer there.
An Entire Orthodox Church
An entire Orthodox Church was stolen in Russia in 2008. Apparently locals from a nearby village dismantled the abandoned church brick by brick and sold the bricks to a businessman. One day a priest showed up, and the church wasn’t there. Words like “Grave Sin” and “Blasphemy” were thrown around.
Ronald McDonald Statue
A 250 pound, life size, Ronald McDonald statue (complete with bench) was stolen from a McDonald’s in New Jersey in late April 2017. The biggest question here is not how or why, but rather…life size Ronald McDonald? So the same size as the Ronald McDonald clown is…in real life?
$100 Million Worth of Diamonds, Gold, & Jewelry
The largest amount of diamonds, gold, and jewelry ever stolen was arguably the Antwerp Diamond Heist. The thieves hit the heart of Belgium’s diamond district, stealing over $100 million dollars worth of stuff, bypassing some of the most high tech alarms in the world, and opening over 100 safe deposit boxes to do so.
Yeah. A man from Gainesville Florida named Eric Prokopi forged papers to take skeleton of a Tyrannosaurs Bataar (close to the T-Rex) out of Mongolia and sell it to a buyer in Manhattan for over a million dollars. The heist was stopped by the FBI in Queens.
Dorthy's Ruby Slippers
Okay, maybe these aren’t the largest object physically ever stolen, but culturally, it’s a big deal. In 2005, the slippers worn by Judy Garland in the iconic film The Wizard of Oz, valued at around $3 Million USD, were stolen in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
A Fully Loaded Oil Tanker
Actually, three of them, within the span of a year and a half, all stolen by Somali pirates. They were under the watch of the Nigerian Navy, which leads many to believe that perhaps the Nigerian Navy was in on the heist, which stinks if you’re in any part of the Nigerian Navy because at this point, your organization is either hopelessly corrupt or hopelessly inept.
200 Ton Bridge
In January of 2008, thieves in Russia stole a 200 ton bridge overnight, presumably to sell for scrap metal. That’s just…impressive.
The Empire State Building
Sort of. Well, on paper. In 2008, The New York Daily News, in an effort to show what a joke the city’s record keeping department was, drew up fake documents, with a fake notary stamp, and submitted them to the city to transfer the deed to the building. The point they made? Those oh so important government documents that are so costly to file were not required to be verified by the office of the city register.
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Photo Credits: 25. 16:9clue, Egg texture 169clue, CC BY 2.0, 24. Peter Kaminski via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 23. US Air Force Photo via http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil (public domain), 22. Tiia Monto, Condom machine, CC BY-SA 3.0, 21. Syohei Arai, RyoanJi-Kane, CC BY-SA 4.0, 20. Daniel Wütschert, Manhole cover in Budapest, CC BY 2.0, 19. Connie Ma via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 18. Max Pixel (public domain), 17. 38chad, Reggae beach, CC BY-SA 3.0, 16. public domain pictures (public domain), 15. pixabay (public domain), 14. publicdomainpictures.net (public domain), 13. abdallahh from Montréal, Canada, Thuja plicata Vancouver, CC BY 2.0, 12. pixabay (public domain), 11. Adamicz, M60a1 lesany, CC BY-SA 3.0, 10. http://klarititemplateshop.com/ via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 9. wikimedia commons (public domain), 8. Toby Oxborrow, Russian Orthodox church in Hakodate, CC BY-SA 2.0, 7. Simon Burchell, Ronald McDonald, Quetzaltenango, CC BY-SA 3.0, 6. pixabay (public domain), 5. K.Neenan Photography, T. bataar., CC BY-SA 3.0, 4. Chris Evans from same, United States, Smithsonian National Museum of American History – Dorothy Ruby Slippers (6269207855), CC BY 2.0, 3. pixabay (public domain), 2. Mark Morton, Metal bridge, west of Field Locks near Esholt – geograph.org.uk – 41494, CC BY-SA 2.0, 1. www.publicdomainpictures.net (public domain)