At 5am on November 9th 1968 at Cap Martin, Braddons Hill Road East,Torquay, Londoner Bruce Reynolds, aged 36, was arrested for masterminding and taking part in the well organised Great Train Robbery that took place near Ledburn in Buckinghamshire August 8th 1963.
Former antiques dealer Reynolds, who loved cars, women, crime and jazz went peacefully with the police who had surrounded the villa, only finding £3,000 in used notes and a case of champagne in the villa.
The raid on the mail train by the gang of 15 men netted £2,631,684 in old 10, 5 and £1 notes, which is the equivelant of £40 million in today’s money.
Bruce obtained false passports and went on the run to Acapulco Mexico with his wife and son Nick. They were joined there with Buster Edwards and family in 1964 to celebrate Christmas which was clearly depicted in the hit Film Buster, starring Phil Collins in 1988 – well worth watching.
Bruce was soon running short of money due to his lifestyle so moved to Canada then France and back to London for a short while and then decided on Torquay for his new hideaway.
Bruce rented the 1930’s Modernist 4 bed villa overlooking Torquay Harbour using his false identity as Mr Keith Hillier with his wife and son. Incidentally, the previous occupant of the villa was Sid James of Carry On fame .
The next door neighbours said they were an ordinary family with their son Nick attending the local Catholic Priory School.
Local gossip had it that Bruce would always pay the milkman with an old fiver which is what they say alerted the police . The official line is they tracked him down after tracing calls to London.
Bruce was convicted in 1969 to a 25 year jail sentence. However, he only served 11 years because of good behaviour. He was released in 1980 and died in 2013 age 81 in Croydon London.
Going on to prove that you never really know who your neighbours are.