Brinks Truck Robbery of 1981

Brinks Truck Robbery of 1981

The robbery of a Brinks armored car in the parking lot of the mall in Nanuet, NY in 1981 was a violent clash between left-wing organizations and the police that ended in tragedy. The Brinks Truck Robbery of 1981, has been an ongoing saga for justice with its many members and groups. The Black Liberation Army, the Weather Underground, Kathy Boudin, Mutulu Shakur (Tupac Shakur’s stepfather), and the tale of Brinks guard Joseph Trombino has been newsworthy since that day in 1981.

Photo: Criminal Encyclopedia

Photo: Criminal Encyclopedia

According to the 1981 article of the Brinks Truck Robbery from the NY Times, “Armed robbers waiting in ambush killed a Brink's guard in a blaze of gunfire at the Nanuet Mall in Rockland County yesterday and minutes later killed two police officers from Nyack, N.Y., in a shootout at a roadblock several miles away.

The robbers, who wore dark ski masks and fired shotguns, automatic pistols and automatic rifles, made off with $1,589,000 in six bags, according to the authorities.

The money was later recovered when four suspects - two men and two women - were captured as they fled in two cars. One of the cars crashed into a stone wall after a chase through Nyack.

At least two persons in the other car escaped when they opened fire on several police officers and detectives who had stopped them at a roadblock at an entrance to the Gov. Thomas E. Dewey Thruway.

A third police officer and two other Brink's guards were wounded in the two exchanges of gunfire. More than a hundred state troopers, aided by helicopters, searched through the wooded area near Route 59 and the Thruway for the suspects, and roadblocks were placed on the Tappan Zee Bridge and major roadways.

The shooting stunned Nyack, a community of 8,000 about 25 miles north of Manhattan. When a police officer blocking the door of the two-story, red-brick police headquarters was asked the size of the department, he said, ''It was 22,'' emphasizing ''was.'' Then he shut the door.

Kenneth Gribetz, the Rockland County District Attorney, told a news conference at midnight that four of the robbers jumped out of a red van parked near an entrance to the huge two-story shopping complex and began shooting.

''They just opened fire on them,'' he said. ''It happened very fast,'' said Jack Horan, a security officer at the bank. The Brink's guards left the bank, he said, ''and the shooting started. People started shouting and we saw the van leaving.''

After a Brink's guard fired a single shot, the robbers drove off, abandoned their van in the parking lot of a Korvette's store on Route 59, and changed to two other vehicles, a yellow Honda and a rented van, Mr. Gribetz said.

The two police officers were killed a few minutes later when they stopped the van at the roadblock. ''As a detective was proceeding away from the back of the van,'' he said. ''individuals, believed to be three, jumped out and opened fire on the police officers.'

Photo: Kathy Boudin / US News

Photo: Kathy Boudin / US News

Brinks Truck Robbery participant Kathy Boudin and her release from prison has been met with opposition from many. According to USA Today, “A survivor of a 1981 Brinks armored truck robbery, which left two police officers and a guard dead, broke his silence Tuesday to criticize the hiring of a woman convicted for her role in the crime.

Retired Nyack, N.Y., police detective Arthur Keenan, who was wounded in the shootout that claimed the lives of Sgt. Edward O'Grady and Officer Waverly "Chipper" Brown, said he could not stay silent about Kathy Boudin's latest university job.

"She's there on her soapbox, trying to get her husband and other co-defendants out of jail for the crimes they committed," Keenan said. "That's her form. That's her soapbox, and I decided to have my own soapbox here in front of the Goshen courthouse. I had to speak out after 31 years."

Boudin, now 69, was one of several members of the terrorist Weather Underground Organization who ambushed an armored truck at the Nanuet Mall on Oct. 20, 1981, in an attempt to steal $1.8 million. She eventually admitted to her role in the robbery, during which Brinks guard Peter Paige also was killed.”