Theft is unfortunately common, and the chances of a break-in are significantly higher when the homeowners or business owners don’t implement the proper security systems and protocols. No one wants to come home to find out they have been robbed while they were away. However, many people are fascinated by famous thieves who have been robbing banks or stealing precious jewels throughout history.
Everyone has heard of Jesse James, Blackbeard, and Clyde Barrow, who was famous for going into a 21 month-long crime-spree with his partner, Bonnie Parker. In fact, many famous thieves were women.
Here are 10 famous female thieves you might have heard of.
1. Bonnie Parker
Bonnie Parker started her career as a thief and a murderer when she met Clyde Barrow in 1930, and soon after smuggled a gun in jail to help him escape.
Bonnie and Clyde were deeply in love, but instead of acting like other happy couples do, they went on a crime spree that lasted 21 months, starting in 1932. They were killed by the police in 1934, and their relationship has since been romanticized.
2. Anne Bonny
Anne Bonny was an Irish-American pirate who teamed up with Captain John “Calico Jack” Rackham. Together, and with the help of their pirate crew, the two lovers pillaged many merchant vessels along the coast of Jamaica.
They were captured in 1720. Calico Jack was hung, but Anne Bonny managed to escape execution because she was pregnant. She was eventually released, and lived the rest of her life as a married woman with children.
3. Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy
Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy, also known as Comtesse de la Motte even though her claim to nobility is dubious, is known for her participation in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, one of the scandals that led to the French Revolution.
She entered Versailles, where she heard of a diamond necklace a jeweler was trying to sell to Queen Marie Antoinette. With a few accomplices, she concocted a plan and managed to steal the expensive necklace.
4. The Forty Elephants gang
The Forty Elephants gang, also known as the Forty Thieves, was a gang of British ladies who specialised in shoplifting. They operated in the Elephant and Castle District, in London, and often worked with the Elephant and Castle Mob, who were male gangsters.
The Forty Thieves were active between the 1870s and the 1950s. Whenever members of the gang were arrested for their crimes, the others would bail them out.
5. Son’ka the Golden Hand
Sofia Ivanovna Blyuvshtein, known as Son’ka the Golden Hand, was a russian thief and con artist from the 19th century.
She specialised in stealing jewelry, and she had her own elaborate techniques to do so. For example, she had trained a small monkey to swallow precious stones while she was talking to the owner of a jewelry store. She would also hide small stones under her long fingernails.
6. Ma Barker
Kate “Ma” Barker was the mother of 4 bandits who formed the Barker gang. She is famous for being the vicious criminal brain who controlled her sons’ crimes and robberies.
However, some people claim that she was not a criminal, and that she simply never interfered with her sons’ activities. However, movies have been inspired by her story, and portray her as the infamous leader of the Barker gang.
7. Belle Starr
Belle Starr, born Myra Maybelle Shirley, was a Texas outlaw during the 19th century. She married a Cherokee Indian named Sam Starr, and they had a ranch together in the Indian Territory.
With her husband, Belle Starr stole horses, preyed on travelers, and housed and protected other outlaws. She was shot and killed in 1889, and her murderer was never identified.
8. Moll Cutpurse
Moll Cutpurse, born Mary Frith, was a pickpocket in 17th century London. She eventually started wearing men’s clothes, and became a highway robber.
She also worked as a pimp and as a fence, meaning she would knowingly buy stolen goods and resell them for profit to people who probably were not aware these goods were stolen.
9. Sante Kimes
Sante Kimes was a thief and a murderer who was convincted of two murders, as well as robbery and many other crimes. Some of them were committed with the help of her son.
She committed insurance fraud many times by burning down property and collecting insurance money. She also ran a slave trade, offering housing and employment to young illegal immigrants, and making them work without ever paying them.
10. The Starlet Bandit
The Starlet Bandit was the nickname given to a woman who robbed at least 10 banks in the Los Angeles area in 2010. Even though this female thief was wearing ordinary clothes and did not look like a starlet, the large sunglasses she was wearing while robbing banks earned her this moniker.
The identity of this woman was never discovered, so she managed to get away with her crimes.