Driving past the Monarch Plaza shopping center along Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point reminded me of the time when it was site of the biggest bank heist in U.S. history.
The crime took place 46 years ago on March 24, 1972 when the safe deposit vault at United California Bank – later renamed First Interstate Bank where I later worked for 11 years – was broken into and (depending on who you talk to) $8 to $30 million (up to $176 million in today’s dollars) in cash and valuables were looted.
The criminals were eventually caught and sent to prison, but the mystery surrounding the crime only deepened. The convicted criminals claimed that their motivation was to steal $10 million of cash in illegal campaign contributions former President Nixon had stashed in the safe deposit boxes.
Even the Mafia and missing teamster Jimmy Hoffa was implicated as further motivation behind the burglary. Today, the location operates as a Chase Bank branch. Great episode of the FBI Files tells the story…