Last fall, an 86-pound bucket of gold flakes was stolen from an armored truck in Manhattan. The estimated value of the bucket—$1.6 million. After an exhaustive search, the alleged thief was brought to justice on January 20th.
On September 29th of last year, a Loomis International truck parked on West 48th Street near Fifth Avenue to make a pick up. Unbeknown to the those guarding the vehicle, career criminal Juan Nivelo was planning to make a pick up of his own.
One of the guards exited the vehicle to retrieve a package, the other went to the front of the truck to grab his cellphone. The five-gallon bucket was left unattended for approximately 20 seconds; for Nivelo, this was more than enough time.
Nivelo vigilantly serpentined through New York’s pedestrian traffic to snatch the bucket from the rear of the truck. It should be noted that the theft occurred at around 4:30 in the afternoon.
The thief’s escape, however, was hampered by the sheer weight of the bucket. Eighty-six pounds turned what had been intended as a sprint into a slow and awkward waddle. Surveillance footage shows Nivelo, believed to be around 50-60 years old, taking frequent breaks, and even resting the bucket on the sidewalk whenever the load became too heavy to bear.
It took an entire hour for the thief to arrive at his parked getaway vehicle, a white Ford sedan. For the unencumbered pedestrian, it would have taken about ten minutes.
By way of some strange magic, though, Nivelo escaped.
The subsequent police operation would reportedly be called “Operation Lucky Charm.”
Out of Luck
Last Thursday, Nivelo was captured by a group of U.S. Homeland Security investigators, NYPD officers, and Ecuadorean police officers working in tandem. Authorities had tracked Nivelo’s movement from New York to Florida, and then to the South American country.
Ecuadorian prosecutor Maria Aguirre said that Nivelo would be tried in Ecuador, as the country does not support extradition.
Defense Attorney Farcio Garcia claims that Nivelo was not in New York at the alleged time of the crime, citing immigration documents that detail Nivelo’s ban from the country in 2008 as proof.
The five-gallon bucket of gold is yet to be recovered.