Bruce Reynolds, 81, mastermind of the "Great Train Robbery" in
that brought its perpetrators cash, incarceration and pop-culture fame, died Thursday after a brief illness, said his son, Nick.
In August 1963, Reynolds was part of a gang that pulled off what was then Britain's biggest robbery. They stole sacks of money containing 2.6 million pounds, the equivalent of $60 million today, from a Glasgow-to-London mail train. The audacious heist became the subject of many books and films.
Reynolds escaped to Mexico, where he lived the high life and evaded capture for several years, but returned to England when his money ran out. He was arrested in 1968 and sentenced to 25 years in jail and released a decade later.
A dozen men eventually were convicted of involvement in the robbery, but most of the money was never recovered.
Reynolds served three years in prison in the 1980s for his part in a small-scale amphetamine conspiracy. The next decade, he wrote a well-regarded crime memoir, "The Autobiography of a Thief."
Reynolds was born in London in 1931, the only child of a Ford plant worker and his nurse wife. "From an early age I always wanted a life of adventure," Reynolds once recalled. At a young age he began engaging in petty crime with a co-worker at a bicycle manufacturer.
From time to time he performed with his son in the rock band Alabama 3, which recorded a song that had been widely performed in Britain when he was on the run: "Have You Seen Bruce Richard Reynolds?"
— Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports