Real Name: Unknown
Aliases: "Big Joe," "Little Joe," "Roadrunner"
Wanted For: Armed Robbery
Missing Since: March 27, 1990
Details: Every day, billions of dollars in hard currency are transported by armored cars. Considered by most criminals to be impregnable, these vehicles have recently been targeted by a brazen, heavily armed gang that carry out their raids with almost military precision. At 1pm on April 18, 1989, a Ram security guard was loading money into an armored car in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, when he was approached by three heavily armed men in a vehicle. As one of the robbers came up to him, he instinctively grabbed the robber's gun. However, he was quickly subdued without shots being fired. The guard felt that the robbers moved very smoothly; they did not appear to be panicked or in a hurry.
Almost simultaneously, the second phase of the heist began. A van pulled up in front of the armored car, cutting off any route of escape. A fourth robber placed what appeared to be a bomb on the car's hood. In just under a minute, they stole close to $1 million. They then vanished without a trace. One investigator described the operation as "commando-like" as if they had trained and practiced it in advance. A bomb squad was immediately dispatched to the scene. Attaching guide wires to the device, they carefully removed it from the car's hood. X-rays later revealed that the bomb was a fake. The FBI concluded that it was nothing more than an ingenious delaying tactic. They linked the fake bomb to an identical device used in a Baltimore, Maryland, robbery that took place three years earlier in 1986. In that one, the robbers made off with over $600,000. The FBI concluded both robberies were executed by the same gang.
In the first two heists, through a combination of careful planning and clockwork timing, the robbers had stolen $1.6 million. They had also brilliantly covered their tracks. Every vehicle they had used had been stolen, wiped clean of evidence, and then abandoned. It was thought that they would quit while they were $1 million ahead. But one year later, they struck again.
On March 27, 1990, they struck in Burnsville, Minnesota, just ten miles from the scene of the last robbery. As one Brinks guard waited in the cab of the armored truck, another made a cash pickup at a local bank. Suddenly, two of the robbers approached him and ordered him to the ground. Meanwhile, a van pulled up in front of the truck. One of the van's occupants fired two shots at the Brinks driver. Fearing for his life, he began to drive away, striking the van in the process. He turned his siren on as one of the robbers fired more shots at him. He circled around the parking lot and came back to the bank. He saw his partner on the ground; fortunately, he was uninjured. As the robbers entered their getaway car, the driver decided to fight back. He slammed the armored truck into their vehicle. Despite this, the robbers were able to escape. Fortunately, despite the number of shots fired in the heavily traveled area, no one was injured.
The robbers abandoned their car behind a nearby shopping center and left on foot. The FBI theorized that they may have had another vehicle parked nearby which they used to leave the area. Authorities quickly cordoned off the neighborhood. They brought in tracking dogs and set up roadblocks. However, the gang had once again made a clean getaway. The following morning, authorities found one of the gang's stolen cars less than a mile from the bank. As in the other robberies, it contained no evidence to identify them. All the authorities can do now is wait for the elusive robbers to strike again.
The FBI believes that the robbers could be living anywhere in the United States. There are apparently at least four members of the gang. Authorities have managed to make composites of three of them (seen above). The first suspect is a white male in his late thirties (in 1990), about 5'9", with dark hair and a dark mustache. The second suspect is a white male between thirty-five and thirty-eight (in 1990), about 6'0", and weighs between 170 and 180 pounds. The third suspect is approximately 6'0" and is between thirty-five and forty (in 1990). He has gray or white hair, and may wear a false beard the same color. There is no description available for the fourth suspect. None of them have ever been identified or located.
Extra Notes: This case was featured on the October 3, 1990 episode. It has similarities to the Rochester Car Heist.
Results: Wanted. In December 1990, a similar armored car robbery occurred in Cheektowaga, New York. The robbers "professionally executed" the robbery, using two vehicles to block the truck. The robbery took less than two minutes. The FBI suspected that it may have been committed by the same gang that committed the Minnesota and Maryland heists. In August 1997, another armored car heist was committed in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The FBI looked into the possibility that it was also committed by the gang. However, no suspects have ever been identified. If still alive, the robbers would now be in their late sixties or early seventies.
- Minnesota Brinks Heist at Unsolved.com
- Stolen car used in heist recovered in Eden Prairie - April 20, 1989
- Record armored-car heist baffles police months later - December 9, 1989
- Second van recovered in probe of armed robbery of Brink's armored truck - March 29, 1990
- Drawing released of robbery suspect - April 1, 1990
- Links between Brinks heist, others sought - December 16, 1990
- 'Some thought armored car heist was training' - August 27, 1997
- Unsolved robbery - January 1, 2013
- 30 Years Ago Today: One of the EPPD's Biggest Unsolved Mysteries - April 17, 2019
- $1 Million Eden Prairie Armored Car Robbery Still Unsolved 30 Years On - April 18, 2019
- Unsolved 30 years later, million-dollar Eden Prairie robbery remains a mystery - April 19, 2019
- Unsolved: Armed robberies in the Twin Cities - May 9, 2019