The truck on West 48th Street was armored and the sidewalks in Midtown Manhattan were bustling with passersby.
But none of that stopped a man from making a $1.6 million windfall Tuesday afternoon, when he picked up a metal bucket filled with gold flakes from the open back of the vehicle and just walked away.
The truck’s guard had gone to the front of the vehicle momentarily when the thief saw his chance, police later said according to the New York Times. He walked up to the truck bed, gripped the unmarked and sealed bucket and made his escape, walking briskly past two men having a conversation on the street and a woman strolling by.
"I think he just saw an opportunity, took the pail and walked off," NYPD Det. Martin Pastor told NBC New York.
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But the bucket’s 86-pound weight clearly slowed the thief down: Police surveillance video caught the thief at turns staggering under its weight or putting it down to take a break, according to the local CBS affiliate. It took the thief an hour to make it from the truck to a white Ford sedan with the bucket, over a distance that usually takes about 10 minutes to walk, the station reported.
Police received a tip after the theft that the man, who appeared to be in his 50s, might be in Florida, the New York Times reported. CBS reported it was unclear if the thief might be able to open the bucket at all.