LONDON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Ronnie Biggs, one of Britain's most famous thieves who helped pull off the Great Train Robbery in 1963, has died, a post on his Twitter page said. He was 84.
"Sadly we lost Ron during the night. As always, his timing was perfect to the end. Keep him and his family in your thoughts," the notation by Biggs' publicists posted Wednesday read.
Ironically, Biggs died as the BBC was preparing to air a two-night special on the Great Train Robbery in which $4.2 million was taken. Most of the robbers were quickly captured by police and sentenced to prison terms of between 14 and 30 years.
A woman at the nursing home where he was living outside of London confirmed Biggs' death, the Los Angeles Times reported. He had been ill off and on the past few years.
Biggs' last public appearance was in March when he attended the funeral of Bruce Reynolds, the robbery's mastermind. Biggs was caught on camera giving an obscene gesture to a photographer.
Biggs died a free man. In August 2009, the British government released Biggs from custody, concluding his age and infirmary meant he wasn't a threat to society.
Ronald Arthur Biggs, born Aug. 8, 1929, in Surrey, was 34 years old when he and 14 other masked thieves forced the mail train to stop by changing a track signal to red and rushed the train. The driver was beaten senseless and never fully recovered.
The robbers made off with 120 mailbags stuffed with currency, none of which was ever recovered.
Fifteen months into his 30-year prison sentence, Biggs escaped in July 1965 by scaling a 30-foot wall with a rope ladder. He eventually landed in Australia and spent much of his stolen loot on plastic surgery. With Scotland Yard on his tail, Biggs eventually fled to Brazil, where he fathered a child and made himself immune to extradition when Brazil refused to deport him.
After eluding police for decades, Biggs gave himself up to the British tabloid the Sun. He arrived in Britain May 7, 2001.
"I'm coming back in style with my head held high," Biggs told the tabloid. "I'm on my way and ready to finally face the music."
In 1978, Biggs recorded "No One is Innocent" with the Sex Pistols, a punk rock group. In January 1994 he published his autobiography, "Odd Man Out."
Earlier this year, Biggs said he was proud to have been part of the gang behind the robbery, the Independent in London said.
Biggs, unable to speak because of a series of strokes, communicated through a spelling board, saying: "If you want to ask me if I have any regrets about being one of the train robbers, my answer is, 'No.'"
"I will go further: I am proud to have been one of them."