Long before Edward Snowden, there was the greatest heist you’ve never heard of. On March 8, 1971, a group of eight Vietnam War protestors broke into a Federal Bureau of Investigation field office in Media, Pennsylvania and stole hundreds of government documents that shocked a nation.

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Stealing J. Edgar Hoover's Secrets

Editor: Ben Howard
Associate Producer: Olivia Katrandjian

The stolen memos, reports and internal correspondence provided the first tangible evidence that J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI was systematically targeting and harassing hundreds of American citizens then known collectively as “the New Left."

That discovery eventually led to Congressional investigations, more revelations of secret, illegal FBI actions, and sweeping reforms. The burglars were never caught despite a massive five-year investigation by the FBI.

The burglars’ identities remained secret until Betty Medsger published The Burglary in 2014. Medsger identified the Media burglars for the first time and detailed the planning, execution, and consequences of the long-forgotten heist, which was carried out by a group that included college professors, graduate students, and a cab driver. Their story is also chronicled in a new documentary by Johanna Hamilton, 1971.


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