Crime

Remembering Miami's Craziest Heists

From The Sting to Oceans 11 to The Inside Man, good heist tales are widely loved in America. Though Miami may not have any masterminding thieves quite as suave as George Clooney and Robert Redford, the Magic City has been home to its fair share of amazing and downright bizarre real-life heists.

Here are three of the craziest one in South Florida history:


The $100,000 Bank of America Heist


A September 2010 robbery at a Bank of America branch on South Dixie Highway in Coral Gables was like something dreamed up by a Hollywood script writer. First, three men held a 25-year-old employee of the bank and his father hostage in their Kendall apartment for about seven hours before taping what they claimed was an explosive device to the young man's chest and back and then driving him to the bank, arriving shortly before 8 a.m.


The men told the employee, Diego Uscamayta, to go inside and retrieve as much money as he could. If he didn't follow instructions, they told him, they'd detonate the device by remote control.

After the robbers fled with about $100,000, the police were called. Soon the area outside the bank was filled with a SWAT team, FBI agents, and a Miami-Dade Police bomb disposal unit.

Once the bank was cleared of employees and customers, hostage negotiators established contact with Uscamayta, who told them about the bomb.

Around 11:30 a.m., two members of the bomb disposal unit were able to remove the device from Uscamayta's body. Police later determined the device was not a real bomb.

One of the bomb unit members was 30-year police veteran James Reddy, who had been a bomb disposal tech for about ten years. He was set to retire in less than a week.

The Miami Herald reported that Reddy's "last bomb call of his career was a first — someone strapped with possible explosives."

After the device was removed, FBI agents spent about eight hours questioning Uscamayta before determining he was not involved in planning the robbery.

Less than two months after the dramatic crime, the Miami Herald reported that with just six weeks remaining in 2010, "the number of bank robberies in South Florida has already surpassed last year's total."

Law enforcement experts suggested that two recently released movies about bank heists at the time — The Town and Takers — might be to blame for the sudden popularity of bank stickups in 2010.

"Some think it's silly, but we're convinced that people are influenced by films like these,'' Supervising Special Agent David Beall told the Herald. 'We have seen enough bank robberies and spoken to enough robbers to know that when we have a rash of bank jobs, it coincides with the release of new films on the subject.''

Six years after the Coral Gables heist, an FBI spokesman tells New Times that no arrests have been made in the case.

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Bill Cooke was a life-long Miami resident until his death in 2017.