LONDON — Ronnie Biggs was a petty criminal who set out to transform his life with the daring heist of a mail train packed with money.
The plan worked in ways he could never have imagined.
Biggs was part of a gang of at least 12 men that robbed the Glasgow-to-London Royal Mail Train in the early hours of Aug. 8, 1963, switching its signals and tricking the driver into stopping in the darkness. The robbery netted 125 sacks of banknotes worth $7.3 million and became known as "the heist of the century."
Biggs was soon caught and jailed, but his escape from a London prison and decades on the run turned him into a media sensation and something of a notorious British folk hero.
He lived for many years beyond the reach of British justice in Rio de Janeiro, where he would sometimes regale tourists and the media alike with stories about the robbery.
He was free for 35 years before voluntarily returning to England in 2001 in a private jet sponsored by The Sun tabloid.
Biggs died Wednesday at 84, daughter-in-law Veronica Biggs said. She did not provide details about the cause of death.