Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[Pounds Sterling]40m RAID 'WAS AN INSIDE JOB'; International Manhunt for Kidnap Gang

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[Pounds Sterling]40m RAID 'WAS AN INSIDE JOB'; International Manhunt for Kidnap Gang

Article excerpt


POLICE involved in a massive hunt for a gang which stole [pounds sterling]40million in cash believe the thieves had inside information.

Detectives are today trawling through a list of employees at the Securitas depot in Tonbridge for anyone with criminal links.

Officers think the gang must have known so much money was being held there when they struck.

Two men posed as police officers to grab the depot boss as he drove home on Tuesday evening. Other members of the gang abducted his wife and young son from their home in Herne Bay and threatened to kill them if he did not co-operate.

Six armed men wearing balaclavas then forced the manager to open the doors of the cash distribution depot in the early hours of yesterday. The centre is used by the Bank of England and handles takings from thousands of shops.

The 15 staff in the centre were tied up while the gang spent an hour and a quarter loading bags of cash into a 7.5 ton white Renault lorry.

It is the biggest cash robbery in British history, dwarfing the previous largest haul in 2004 when an IRA gang stole [pounds sterling]26.5 million in Belfast.

Police immediately issued an all-ports and airports alert. Officers are also checking CCTV at the Channel Tunnel to see if the gang fled to France.

Teams of forensic science officers are scouring the depot which is surrounded by 10ft-high metal fencing.

Most of the cash stolen is believed to be in used notes in a variety of denominations making it easier to launder. Bank of England Governor Mervyn King ordered a review of the security system.

Suspicions that the gang received inside knowledge were fuelled by the level of organisation involved.

The robbers knew a number of personal details about the depot manager and his family.

As well as his identity, they knew the make of his car, his address and details of his family.

The raid, planned along the lines of a military operation, began on Tuesday at about 6.30pm when the depot manager was flagged down by what he believed was a police car.

He was driving his Nissan Almera close to the Three Squirrels pub on the A249 at Detling Hill.

A man dressed in a high-visibility jacket and police hat got out of a Volvo which was fitted with flashing blue lights and told the manager to come to his car. He was then handcuffed and driven towards Tonbridge, joining the M20 at junction 7 and leaving at junction 4 towards West Malling. At the same time, two men pretending to be police officers visited the manager's home and told his wife he had been in an accident.

Once inside, they abducted his wife and seven-year-old son at gunpoint, driving them off in a white van. …

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