History remembers all kinds of villains throughout the centuries. The life of a thief certainly holds a fascinating allure to the public eye, with danger and adventures always right around the corner.
Everybody knows the tale of the famous Robin Hood who stole from the rich to help the poor. And although not every thief enjoys that kind of recognition, many others remain in history with their shocking deeds. Here are some examples of famous thieves who rose to prominence because of their original and unforgettable style.
Frank William Abagnale, Jr.
The infamous tale of Frank Abagnale was so fascinating that it ended up as the focus of the movie “Catch Me If You Can” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. Between ages of 15 and 21, Frank acted as an impostor stealing from whoever he could at the time. His impersonations include an airline pilot, teaching assistant, physician, and even an attorney.
He also did his share of bank fraud, employing various tricks like writing fake checks. Frank Abagnale was so good at what he did that he was eventually hired to work for the federal government in exchange for not serving his full sentence. His position with the FBI had him working as a consultant and lecturer on financial fraud.
Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow were criminals that roared through America during the first half of the 20th century. The couple led a very turbulent life, traveling from state to state and starting a spree of robberies and murders with their gang.
The two met in Texas and immediately fell in love. Bonnie was just 19 and Clyde two years older. The two of them committed various crimes during their crazy life together and a massive manhunt was instigated. The couple were shot to death by police in Louisiana, after successfully evading authorities for two years. The romantic image of Bonnie and Clyde inspired the creation of a movie in 1967, and also several songs about the two criminals.
Vincenzo Peruggia – The Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa
Vincenzo Peruggia’s theft is often regarded as the greatest art theft of the 20th century. Surprisingly, the Italian achieved success without any complex planning and elaborations, stealing one of the most famous paintings in the world. The execution was simple – he hid in the Louvre for a night, and when the museum was closed and everybody had long gone, he removed the precious piece of art from the wall and went home.
It took the police two years to finally catch him in Florence, Italy while Vincenzo was trying to negotiate with an art gallery for the painting. It was actually Peruggia’s deed that caused the worldwide popularity of the Mona Lisa. While Leonardo da Vinci piece was appreciated before the crime, its fame rapidly grew due to legends surrounding the theft.
There is something romantic about the exploits of the most famous thieves through history, and it’s not surprising that people cherish them so much. And those with a particular curiosity in this field are lucky to have a long list of people worth learning about throughout the centuries.