Youngstown mastermind behind biggest bank vault burglary explains how he did it

Local News

In February, we first told you about a movie being made on the Dinsio Crew from Youngstown and how they burglarized a California bank, stealing millions from President Nixon. We sat down with Amil Dinsio — the mastermind behind it all.

He wrote a book, “Inside the Vault,” about how his crew pulled it off.

He’s known as one of the most prolific bank burglars of the ’60s and ’70s.

Dinsio started burglarizing banks at the age of 16 with his older brother, James. They first hit a bank in Wheeling, West Virginia.

“So when we got done chicken fights, we’d stop there in Wheeling. A little restaurant there had good hot sausage and all that, and there was a bank there so we said, ‘Maybe we could rob that.’ And that’s how that happened. It was very simple to do.”

The Dinsios would spend years burglarizing banks — experts at their craft. Defeating bank alarms, using explosives to blast holes into vaults and drilling into deposit safes.

“Then banks were closed on Saturdays so you would get Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the night drops, which I explain in the back of my book about night drops. You get 6,700 bags of money. That’s a lot of money.”

In 1972, Jimmy Hoffa, head of the Teamsters Union, gave out a score for the Dinsio Crew to steal $30 million from President Richard Nixon. That money was kept in a vault at United California Bank in Laguna, Niguel.

“Sounded good, $30 million, so you gotta go look at it.”

The crew headed west and spent a weekend inside the vault.

“We just cut a hole in the plywood. There’s rubber on the top and insulation. You just take that out with a crowbar and then you cut the wood, and you’re right in on top of the vault.”

Dinsio and his crew walked away with over $12 million of Nixon’s money. It’s known as the biggest bank vault burglary in U.S. history.

“I liked Nixon, I really did. I liked him as a person and all that because I guess he was a crook, but what the hell could he do about it? He couldn’t do nothing because of what they were doing.”

Video archives: Dinsio brothers arrested for heist in 1990s

A few months after the California burglary, Dinsio would be arrested by the FBI while leaving his
Boardman home. To this day, he will tell you the FBI planted evidence to bring him down.

“Page 144 in the book, you’ll see 13 batteries. I put a circle around it. Everything on that page, the FBI stole out of my garage. One of them, flashlight batteries — maybe more than one. They used my fingerprint on that battery to plant in that car in California to tie me to the car.”

“Inside the Vault” is available now. Dinsio is having a book signing on April 27 at the Boardman
Barnes and Noble
, beginning at 1 p.m.

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