Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Lufthansa Heist Revisited

Layout of Robbery Plan

The team assembled by Burke to pull off the robbery, according to Volkman and Cummings, were Angelo Sepe, Tommy DeSimone, Louis Cafora, Joe Manri and Frenchy McMahon. Burke's son Frank would drive one of the back up vehicles and Edwards' job was to dispose of the van afterwards. Manri and Werner continued to meet at a Queens motel to discuss how the alarm system worked. Manri then passed this information back to Burke who figured out the details that inexperienced thieves like Werner and Gruenwald had missed. He formulated a five-phase plan:

Phase One: A van and two automobiles would be used. One of the cars would follow the van to the airport and be used as a "crash car" in case the police began a pursuit after the robbery. The second car would wait in a garage in Brooklyn where the money would be transferred from the van. The van and crash car would arrive at the cargo terminal at 3:00 a.m. While the crash car, to be driven by Frank Burke, waited in the parking lot, three men would exit the van and enter the front door of the cargo terminal. The two men remaining in the van would drive to the rear of the building, cut the lock on the security fence and replace it with a fake one. The robbers would all be dressed in nondescript dark clothing and be wearing black ski masks.

Phase Two: The men who entered the building would be responsible for rounding up the 10 employees who Warner said would be working that shift. Since it was their lunch hour, several would already be in the lunchroom. They were all to be accounted for, handcuffed and forced to lie face down on the floor.

Phase Three: With instructions provided by Werner, the senior supervisor would be identified and forced to deactivate the alarm system and lead the robbers into the security vault.

Phase Four: The supervisor would then be forced to open the cargo bay door to allow the van inside. The van would be loaded and the supervisor would be taken back to the lunchroom and handcuffed with the others. The captives were to be told that they were to lie still for at least ten minutes. This was because Werner claimed the Port Authority Police could seal the airport within 90 seconds.

Phase Five: When the van pulled out of the cargo terminal it would be followed by the crash car to the Brooklyn garage where the money would be switched to the third vehicle. There Edwards would put a set of stolen plates on the van and drive it to an auto junk yard in New Jersey where it would be compacted and destroyed.

Depending on their role in the robbery the participants were to receive $10,000 to $50,000. However, those amounts were based on the estimated haul, which was only $2.0 million. Werner was to receive a flat 10% of the take.