The Great Philly Pocket Change Heist
by Lisa Scheffert, translated by Maike Meßmann
In April 2023, a series of robberies occurred in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, involving trucks loaded with all sorts of goods being targeted. Among other things, the perpetrators stole fridges, TVs, and boxes of shrimp, meat, frozen meals, tequila and beer. In the night between 13 and 14 April, these thieves came across a truckload of coins.
The truck was on its way from the US Mint in Philadelphia to Miami, when the driver left it in a Walmart parking lot to spend the night at home. The perpetrators seized the opportunity and broke into the unguarded vehicle with bolt cutters. The truck contained over six tons of coins. What is most perplexing about this theft is that these coins were dimes, i.e. worth 10 cents each. The thieves loaded their loot into smaller bags and then put them into a getaway vehicle to disappear, leaving thousands of coins scattered across the parking lot. About 2/3 of the shipment was also left behind because the thieves simply did not have the space to take it all. You will see by now that the evidence suggests that these men were occasional thieves who had not specifically targeted the coin transport.
The Philadelphia Police had to go through a lot of trouble to determine exactly how much money had been stolen. By now we know that the perpetrators took more than two million dimes worth 234,500 dollars.
Four men are now facing trial for the theft. The indictment charges unsealed in October reveal that the thieves were anything but professional about their cloak-and-dagger operations.
Attempts to redeem their loot at coin machines in Maryland and by making cash deposits at a minimum of four banks in the suburbs of Philadelphia quickly arose suspicion given the sheer amount of coins. Since the same vehicles were used for the robberies, CCTV footage quickly pointed the detectives into the right direction. Text messages exchanged by the thieves, talking about their loot and how they wanted to proceed, eventually put an end to their careers as criminals and led the police to arrest the four men aged 25 to 32. The indictment states numerous charges including theft of government money and robbery interfering with interstate commerce. They will probable face hefty prison sentences.
So far, we do not know the fate of the other two men, as six men in grey hoodies appear in the surveillance footage from the night of the crime. And since the men only redeemed a few thousand coins, we also do not know where the rest of the loot is hidden.
Another unknown factor is whether the truck driver will have to face consequences. According to a truck driver interviewed by abc7, it is rather unusual to leave a shipment unguarded during the night. Usually, the driver should not have left the load unattended until it reached its Miami destination. The interviewed driver said that there was a bed in the cargo area of the truck for such cases.