Monsey Memories: The Brinks Robbery of 1981
By: Yitzy Fried
October 20, 1981 is a day that lives in infamy for the families of the officers slain in the horrific event, and for the stillness and the innocence of the Rockland community that was shattered on that day.
Forty-two years have elapsed since that terrible day, when a group of terrorists from a number of terrorist organizations attacked a Brinks Truck at the Nanuet Mall, made off with $1.6 million in cash, and murdered two police officers, one Brinks officer, and injured a number of others.
The robbery itself was carried out by Black Liberation Army members, while members of the M19 Communist Organization, a subdivision of the Weather Underground terrorist organization served as getaway drivers.
The robbery began with Boudin dropping off her infant son, Chesa Boudin (recently recalled as the DA of San Francisco, after being raised by his mother’s fellow Weather Underground terrorists, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dhorne), at a babysitter's before taking the wheel of the getaway vehicle, a U-Haul truck. She waited in a nearby parking lot as her heavily armed accomplices drove a red van to the Nanuet Mall, where a Brinks truck was making a pick-up.
The armored truck was picking up the day’s receipts at the Nanuet Shopping Mall in Nanuet, at around 4:00 p.m., when four terrorists opened fire without warning on the three guards. 49-year-old Peter Paige of East Brunswick was killed.
The robbers fled in a red van and drove five blocks before splitting up and getting into a rental van and a yellow car. At least two other suspects waited in parked vehicles. The getaway cars were parked about five miles away at a roadblock at an entrance to the New York State Thruway, and four police officers from the town of Nyack stopped to question the driver. A man and a woman were sitting in the front seat and the officers walked around the side. Suddenly, the side door was flung open at the men armed with automatic weapons burst out instantly shooting an officer.
They then stole two vehicles from bystanders and escaped. The cars were found later on but the suspects were not. Kathie Boudin was later caught by a New York City Transit Authority Policeman, but the others were only caught days later. On October 28, more of the terrorists were caught on a Mississippi farmhouse, bringing the manhunt to a close.
The terrorists were each given lengthy prison sentences. Some were granted clemency by disgraced governor Andrew Cuomo, some served out their sentence, and one remains in prison to this day.
But forty-one years since that horrific autumn afternoon, the police officers were remembered at the annual memorial at the site of their murder, commemorating an event that forever altered the stillness of this serene community.