Even Ethan Hunt couldn’t crack these…
Bank heists are extremely difficult to pull off, no matter what Hollywood might have us believe. Some vaults are so secure that robbers have heart attacks even thinking about breaking in.
With that in mind, check out these 15 Most Impenetrable Bank Vaults from recent history and see to what extremes countries (and some private companies) will go to keep the deposits and valuables of their clientele absolutely protected.
1. Fort Knox – The United States Bullion Depository
If a bank robber was somehow able to get through the solid granite wall perimeter and past the squadrons of machinegun wielding guards and armed military, the thief would still have to contend with a 22-ton vault door. That 22 ton blast door is held shut by a lock so intricate that it requires a 10 person team to unlock. Is it really any wonder that Fort Knox has never even had a published robbery attempt?
2. The New York Federal Reserve Vault – World’s Biggest Gold Depository
Deep below the streets of Manhattan sits a vault so impenetrable that it’s entrusted with more U.S. gold bullion than the famous Fort Knox. Security is so tight that men aren’t allowed to enter the vault; pallets are moved around by a team of robots.
The bank’s security systems are so trusted that even foreign governments use it for gold storage. And – as if that wasn’t enough – a Jason Bourne level protection force watch the perimeter; their shooting range scores are so good they’re better than marksmen.
3. The Bank of England Gold Vault
If Britain’s Prime Minister had a secret, he would want to keep it here. More than 4,600 tons of gold are safeguarded in what is the UK’s largest gold vault. A figure that’s second only to the Federal Reserve Vault mentioned above.
The vault walls are bombproof and so sturdy that bank staff used them for protection during WWII air raids. And when the vault doors do need to be opened, they can only be accessed by an elaborate system consisting of voice recognition, 3 foot keys and other unpublished security measures.
4. The London Silver Vaults
In 1957, the same type of vault used in the London Silver Vaults was used as part of U.S. nuclear testing in Nevada. The 37-kiloton nuke tore away steel reinforcement and loosened trim but didn’t bust the vault.
During WWII the bank around the vault was reduced to rubble due to a bomb strike, but the vault itself was undamaged. The vault itself is the very definition of the world “impenetrable.”
5. Teikoku Bank, Hiroshima – Atomic Bomb-Proof!
Once the U.S. government learned how to control the finger of God, the first order of business was to wipe the city of Hiroshima off the face of the planet. Skin melted from charred flesh… buildings fell like towers of playing cards… grass was parched to dust… water evaporated immediately… and two Mosler bank vaults were undamaged.
How’s that for an advertisement? Good enough for the Mosler company to trumpet that their vaults could withstand an atomic bomb in their advertising for the next 10 years.
6. The Gold Vault in Dubai
Dubai, known as the City of Gold, finished building a vault to hold all that metal in 2009. The vault is located in the Dubai Multi Commodities Center and incorporates the latest and greatest in security measures. Dubai is in the process of repatriating their gold from London now that they have one of the most secure facilities in the world.
7. The legendary Swiss Vaults
Crime thrillers usually have talk of a Swiss bank account. There’s a reason: Swiss banks are among the safest on the planet. The 3-key safety deposit box in particular has been used by the World’s most wealthy citizens for over 200 years. Interesting note: the first deposit box prototype was patented through the same office that employed a young Albert Einstein as a clerk.
8. The Iranian Gold Reserve– Location Unknown
What makes the vault holding Iran’s gold reserve impenetrable is that nobody can say for sure where it is. One could assume the vault is either in the Imperial Treasury location or the Iran Central Bank, but you know what they say about assumptions. Iran secretly flew gold into the country from Europe in order to dodge “financial pressure” from the US and UK. Now that the reserves are back within Iranian borders, the location of their holding vault is as elusive as Iraq’s WMDs.
9. The Antwerp Diamond Center – World’s Most Secure Diamond Vault?
The Antwerp Diamond Center was swindled of $100 Million worth of inventory when a team of Italian thieves beat their “impregnable” defenses in February, 2003. The thieves got past body heat detectors, Doppler radars, magnetic fields, motion detectors and an incredibly advanced locking system. The police still can’t figure out how the team did it.
10. The JPMorgan Chase New York Gold Vault
As the global economy suffers more people are plowing their money into gold to hedge against inflation. This spells opportunity for JPMorgan Chase, who swung open an underground vault in Manhattan. If that back of the vault door doesn’t intimidate you, the scowl on that man’s face should.
11. The Federal Reserve Bank Vault of Cleveland
A bank in Cleveland, Ohio has the largest vault door on the face of the planet. Granted it isn’t just any bank, it’s the local Federal Reserve. Ohio isn’t the picture I get in my head when I think ‘bank heist.’ And for the record, the vault door weighs 91 tons… the equivalent of two humpback whales.
12. Codename: Priscilla Bank Vault – Atomic Bomb-Proof Vault #2!
This picture captures the aftermath of atomic bomb testing under the codename Priscilla that occurred in June, 1957 in the Nevada desert. What you don’t see in the picture is the bank vault that withstood the blast… another Mosler engineered vault. The 37-kiloton triggered blast did this to concrete and steel, but left the (unbreakable?) vault intact.
13. The Broker Restaurant Antique Bank Vault in Denver, CO.
The Broker Restaurant (Denver, Colorado) may be the safest restaurant in the country. In 1903 the building was the Denver National Bank. Today the building serves exquisitely prepared dishes in the very room where countless millions were counted and deposited back into safety deposit boxes.
14. The Dominion Bank Vault
At it’s heyday in 1914, the Dominion Bank Building in Toronto, Canada was considered the most secure bank vault in the entire world. Because it was constructed on bedrock and wrapped by surveillance passages, tunneling into it was a practical impossibility. Maybe an Ocean’s 12 style infiltration would work… but let’s not forget the 40-ton vault door. The door was so airtight that a single hairpin would keep it from closing. Good luck cracking this vault.
15. The Hard Rock Vault
The Hard Rock Vault, first opened in 2001, is guardian to hundreds of priceless musical treasures from Jimmy Hendrix’s Flying V to John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for “Instant Karma.” It’s situated below Hard Rock Cafe London in what used to be Coutts Bank. In terms of security, the vault once held the Queen’s treasury before Coutts Bank was converted.
Great compilation of some of the world’s most formidable bank vaults. The atomic bomb proof ones were most impressive of the lot. 🙂
Thanks for information about how to get in
Why is a vault that was broken into on the top 15 most “impenetrable vaults?”
It was an inside job. Plain and simple. The diamond trade is one of the world’s biggest organized crime enterprises, anyway.
To break into it would have required inside knowledge of how to disarm the system. If the police can’t figure that out, then they should all be fired. Very likely, the police were paid off to act dumb and unable to investigate the obvious.
Ft. Knox was indeed site of an attempted robbery. I think I saw a movie about it….
Right. The attempt was documented in the James Bond movie Goldfinger.
To be fair, Mr. Goldfinger was not attempting a robbery. He was’t going to remove a single ounce. He wanted to irradiate it all, so that his holdings would increase in value. Thanks to the charms of James Bond and the malleable loyalties of Pussy Galore (how that got through the the sensors of the day, I’ll never figure out), the good guys prevailed! The End.
The foregoing security measures illustrated demonstate the price and penalties we pay for dishonesty. Notwithstanding we were given 10 simple, but priceless rules by the highest authority of the universe as a perfect guide. The energies expended via disobedience to said rules inevitably will become exhausted as the Omnipotent Creator of the universe completely re-places mammon’s authority with His own. Those who choose to treasure and abide by the 100% (fine) golden rules will never tire of experiencing an eternity of price-less treasures where vaults are non existent.
Sure, that’s why the Catholic Church owns that incredible amount of property and the vault of the Vatican could easily be part of the list above …
Nice list up there! Wasn’t aware of most of these. 🙂
The hard rock vault! Wow! Didn’t know there exists a vault to keep rock material too.. Great post!
wow ! I thought that the most impenetrable banks were in switzerland .. nice work , thanks for the post ..
I want to visit the Dubai bank vault.
Awesome post. I encourage everyone to read this and share this with their friends.
This is really new information for me. I could not stop reading this post. I read the whole post.
You guys are great for the internet! We need more people like you guys. Thanks for such a great information.
Dubai bank vault would be an interesting place to visit after the Burj Dubai.
Good one. Thanks to everyone who worked on this.
This needs more views. It is always interesting to know the different security systems.
great info….makes online money stealing look easier than doing it physically!!
Thanks for the post. You guys are rocking.
I expect more posts from you.
The other side of that coin is NOT knowing if you can retrive your valuables when you want or need them. If you have gold of silver stored at JP Morgan’s vault, it may be safe, but you may still never see it again. If the US Government decided precious metals were a strategic commodity, it could just issue a derictive telling the world that JP Morgan would not return physical metal but would buy it at a price set by the Federal Reserve, maybe $1,200 for gold and $25 for silver.
Why don t you write about the 9/11 robbery that happened in nyc. Someone knew about it before the planes crashed? Investagate that!
All that security at Fort Knox… and we don’t even know how much gold is allegedly stored there… they say we should have about 8100 metric tons to the credit of our country. We don’t know how many of the bars alleged to be stored there actually pure gold and not gold-plated tungsten bars.
Before anyone flames this comment, I suggest you do some research. Because, if the Federal Reserve system has done what I have reason to believe they have done, we Americans are about to make a terrible discovery.
Note that there has not been a physical audit of the gold allegedly stored there since 1953. And given our government’s financial and economic shenanigans over the past years, no one can say for sure what’s so.
No doubt, there is gold at Ft. Knox, but how much (as noted, no audit since Eisenhower was president) and who owns it are valid questions. While Americans talk about “our gold” at Ft. Knox, foreign financial publications talk about “the Federal Reserve’s gold.”
The gold stored in a vault below the Twin towers survived and was removed after
by Brinks Trucks.The vault was driven down below third level below ground and survived
with all its contents.
Speaking off vaults, I had access to many vaults over the past thirty plus years and know
very well how difficult it is to get in these vaults. I once tried to spin the combination open
just before opening time in the bank and the outside part came off and left me vulnerable.It took five hours of drilling direct into the combination area to gain access.It is the alarms were not turned off,the police could have easily reached there within that time.The strength of not gaining access is not through the door but someplace else.
Charles du Gaulle of France figured out that the Nixon administration was issuing more gold certificates than the US had gold to back them. He started demanding all payments to France be in gold bullion and urged other countries to do the same. That is why Nixon took the US off the gold standard because du Gaulle was right.
Bill, this is a fantastic read and super pictorial. If only some of the other gold websites had the imagination to publish such interesting stuff! Not that I’m jealous….
Happy New Year, Richard
It would have been interesting to include the Iron Mountain facility in Pennsylvania, where they store priceless files, documents, and artifacts for the government and other big clients deep underground in an old mine.
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Traditional cranks will tell you that there is no gold in Fort Knox. Modern cranks know that the US is now just a custodian for what was once our national treasure, and that Frau Merkel has it audited on a regular basis.
I’m certain there’s gold at Ft. Knox; what I’m concerned about is just how much is there and who has legal title to it.
Richard quips that Frau Merkel (Angela Merkel, the current Chancellor of Germany) has it audited on a regular basis. I doubt Germany has title to it. Legally, it’s probably owned by the Federal Reserve.
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Remember, the security at Fort Knox is NOT to keep people from getting gold out, but to keep people from getting IN and seeing the empty halls…
Great to see a picture against all of the vaults. Interesting regarding the repatriation of Dubai gold from London. I can’t imagine how they keep up this level of security on the move…
These places don’t hold a candle to Gringotts.
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The picture you have for the Hard Rock Vault is not of the vault you speak of in London. It is, in fact, a crappy tourist attraction on International Drive, Orlando, Florida. It was recently closed due to lack of business. Next time, check your sources for accuracy. Other than that, great post!
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I don’t think that all of this is neccesary, they are just showing off!
That is amazing. Imagine how much money it took to make the vaults, probably more money than there is inside. What a waste.
The values of the contents stored in these vaults dwarf the cost of building the vaults, otherwise it would not be economic to build the vaults.
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How safe is gold that is store in the Delaware Depository in Wilmington, DE? If the Government wants to confiscate PMs, can they do it there? Thanks
The gold and silver stored at DDSC are safe from all criminals except the government. If the government were to confiscate PMs, the crew at DDSC would follow any government edicts pertaining their operations.
I wish that a few of these were available for use by regular folk.
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The last public viewing was in 1974. If there is still gold in Fort Knox, this would belong to the American public. Why has there been no public Audit since 1974? We as Americans have the right to know whether there is any gold in Fort Knox.
I remember the 1974 (or so) “viewing” of the gold at Ft. Knox. It came at a time when there were lots claims that “There’s no gold in Ft. Knox.” Then US Congressman John Conlon from Arizona was one who “saw the gold.” However, there was no audit. It was a “walk through.”
Supposedly, there is a regular “internal” audit of the gold at Ft. Knox and the gold in the vaults of the NY Fed. Not only is there the question of how much gold is in Ft. Knox/NY Fed vaults, but there the issue as to who owns it: The US Treasury or the Federal Reserve?
I am very concerned about the future of our country. The Social Security trust fund has been robbed of more than 4 trillion dollars used for other purposes than what it was intended for. This has been a big piggy bank for the government to steal our money.Fort Knox if their is gold in the vault who does it actually belong to? I am tired of the government thinking they know what is best for Americans. There are just too many secrets all in the name of national security more like in the name of national secerecy. It was stated that at the New York Federal Reserve 98% of the gold in the vault does not belong to our country. We have a debt of over 15 trillion dollars is there anything that we as americans actually own other than the currency we print that is not worth the paper it is printed on?
To Robert Jackson, “is there anything that we as Americans actually own, other than the currency we print, that is not worth the paper it is printed on?” answer: Politicians’ promises. Just think about this. If you “own” property in a state that taxes property, you don’t really own the property but are in essence renting the property from the local government. If you think you actually own the property stop paying your tax rent payments and see how long you get to keep it.
Most countries in the western world borrow money from overseas in one form or another. Most governments offer collateral in land to arrange these loans. Thus the street or roadway outside your home is most likely no longer owned by your local government. In theory; if your government as to default on their borrowings some other entity could take possession of ‘their’ land and stop you from driving into or out of your garage…
You forgot the legendary Sierra Madre Casino Vault, with only two people going in there, and with one being trapped in there. It was meant for a stronghold for two lovers in the event of an atomic war.
Awesome list! Id love to visit these vaults, would be like being in Oceans Eleven!
Perth mint in western Australia should be in the top 10 it holds the largest amount of gold on earth and has the largest gold coin in the world and you also have to get into the first Mosler vault to get into the main vault
I visited the NY Federal Reserve gold vaults in spring 1983 as part of a tour. Close enough to touch it were it not for the tight weave of the the steel mesh screen inside the thick steel bars. The 89-ton door had to be raised ~2” before rotating 90 degrees in order to allow a through-passage. In the picture shown, you can see the curved edges on the floor at the front and rear. Once closed, you’d have to penetrate 2 VERY thick steel walls. And you’ll still have to schlep all that gold OUT!
I wonder why they have such high security at The New York Federal Reserve Vault when there’s no gold left in those vaults. 😉
The NYFed has me stumped. I visited recently on a tour. Minimal security on entry, one tour guide escort down to the vault level for 25 visitors. Half of the group was sent down to the entrance unescorted, and asked to wait in the lobby for the second group to come in another elevator with the guide
The vault was wide open, and is left that way all day apparently, and the entire group was able to enter, and even try to touch the gold by pushing finger through the gratings. The door into the gold storage room, just bars, was locked with a small everyday padlock and two other locks. The individual storage “cells” for the gold had combination locks, however were just steel barred doors.
Entry to the vault area was past a small office area, with a few older office people at desks. There were no robots, just manual scales used for weighing, and electric pallet jacks for lifting. From the street to the gold, was a single unsecured glass door, an elevator, a vault level door with a swipe card access, and then the steel doors through to what was described as billions of gold bullion.
Only 3 security guards were passed, all with small caliber handguns. Makes me think that this is not what it seems, and either a fake vault, or a location no longer carrying real gold, just gold painted bars.
These vaults are incredible. The technology they have today is amazing, but nothing works better than steel and multiple levels of security. What about the vaults that hold cash at casinos in Las Vegas? Do they have vaults that are comparable to these? Maybe not because they wouldn’t be holding nearly as much gold, cash and valuables.
Thank you, The references are perfect for the book I’m writing. 🙂
> the first deposit box prototype was patented through the same office that employed
> a young Albert Einstein as a clerk.
He was a patent clerk… like countless other underpaid employees.
Does that mean the deposit box is somehow great?
Why wouldn’t the Doomsday Vault in Norway be on the list?
Good question; however, the Doomsday Vault is for seeds, which “represents the world’s largest collection of crop diversity, and includes wheat, barley, potatoes and almost 150,000 varieties of rice.”
Our article is about gold storage.