Bloomberg reported Worldwide Elderly Crime Rates Increase "Young men still commit a disproportionate share of crimes in most countries. But crime rates among the elderly are rising in Britain and other European and Asian nations, adding a worrisome new dimension to the problem of aging populations."
The "Opa Bande" ("Grandpa Gang"), three German men in their sixties and seventies who were convicted in 2005 of robbing more than €1 million ($1.09 million) from 12 banks, testified at their trial that they were trying to top up their pension benefits. One defendant, Wilfried Ackermann, said he used his share to buy a farm where he could live because he was afraid of being put in a retirement home.
The perpetrators of the London jewel heist, though, were neither isolated nor impoverished. Prosecutors say the thieves disabled an elevator and climbed down the shaft, then used a high-powered drill to cut into the vault. Once inside, they removed valuables from 72 safe deposit boxes, hauling them away in bags and bins and loading them into a waiting van. Although their faces were obscured by hardhats and other headgear, the tabloids gave each thief a nickname based on distinctive characteristics seen on camera. Two of them, dubbed Tall Man and Old Man, "struggle to move a bin before they drag it outside," the Mirror newspaper reported in its analysis of the security footage. "The Old Man leans on the bin, struggling for breath."
Most of the nine men charged in the case appeared to be ordinary blokes. The hard-of-hearing 74-year-old was described by his London neighbors as an affable retiree who loves dogs; the 59-year-old with a limp was said to be a former truck driver. Another defendant runs a plumbing business in the London suburbs. All nine are being held in custody on charges of conspiracy to commit burglary; they haven't yet entered pleas.