The cash was headed to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the shortage wasn't discovered until an official count at the Fed offices in Lower Manhattan.
“When it got here, the money was missing,” FBI spokesman Jim Margolin said. The cash was reportedly delivered in crates that were transported in a larger shipping container.
A forklift operator told investigators he "opened the sealed crate and noticed damage to one of the crates in the form of a puncture from a forklift. It was a hole large enough to put your arm in.”
The forklift operator initially told investigators he didn’t think the hole needed to be reported, as the containers often get beat up over time. Under questioning, however, he admitted the hole was larger than any caused by normal wear.
The shipping crate with the hole was positioned so that the hole was blocked from view until it arrived in New York, investigators said.
The missing money was in 12 bundles of $100,000 apiece in $100 bills, an amount that would only weigh about 22 pounds.
Investigators believe the heist took place before the flight by someone who either knew what was in the crates or saw an opportunity.
An estimated $5 million was lifted from the Lufthansa Airlines terminal at JFK Airport in 1978, the largest heist in the airport's history. At the time, it was the largest cash theft on U.S. soil, and was portrayed in the 1990 Scorsese film "Goodfellas."