KIDNAP GANG'S [Pounds Sterling]40m ROBBERY; Gunmen Abduct Family to Pull off Biggest Heist in British History

Daily Mail (London), February 23, 2006 | Go to article overview

KIDNAP GANG'S [Pounds Sterling]40m ROBBERY; Gunmen Abduct Family to Pull off Biggest Heist in British History


Byline: BEN TAYLOR

AN ARMED gang has stolen [pounds sterling]40million in Britain's biggestever cash robbery.

They abducted the wife and young son of a security depot manager to force him to co-operate.

Then six gangsters wearing balaclavas and holding pistols walked into his depot in Kent, which handles takings from thousands of shops, including the vast Bluewater centre.

The 15 staff were tied up as the gang spent an hour and a quarter emptying the vaults and loading their seven and a half ton truck.

The raid early yesterday morning was the largest of its kind in British history. The haul dwarfs the [pounds sterling]26.5million stolen, allegedly by the Provisional IRA, from the Northern Bank in Belfast in December 2004.

And, unlike the Northern raid, where much of the cash was brand new and easily traceable, the money stolen yesterday was in used notes of all denominations - making it far easier to launder.

Last night, as a huge police hunt was launched across Europe, details emerged of how the audacious raid was carried out.

The gang's operation began at 6.30pm on Tuesday, as the manager of Securitas in Tonbridge was driving home to the seaside town of Herne Bay.

His Nissan Almera was pulled over by an unmarked Volvo which had flashing blue lights in its front grille. The employee, who has not been named, was told to get out by a man wearing a high-visibility jacket and what he thought was a police hat. He was told to sit inside the Volvo, then handcuffed.

At the same time, two men posing as police visited his wife and son at home.

They said there had been an accident and she should come with them.

Minutes later, however, both wife and child were bundled into the back of a white van.

The manager was driven up the M20, towards London, before turning off at West Malling.

The car and the van met up somewhere in the Kent countryside and the family were herded into a building, thought to be a barn.

They were threatened at gunpoint and the manager was told that if he did not co-operate he would never see his wife and son again.

Several hours later, at 1am yesterday, he was driven to his depot on an industrial estate near Tonbridge station.

After helping themselves to the piles of cash, the gang fled in their white Renault truck at 2.15am.

An hour later, a member of staff managed to break free and activate an alarm which alerted police No one was hurt during the raid, but the staff were described as 'very shaken'. Police confirmed that the manager and his family had been released.

The cash consists of takings from shops across Kent and the South-East London, including Bluewater near Dartford.

The depot acts as a collection point for the Bank of England which recirculates the money around the banking system.

Kent Police would say only that the robbers had escaped with a 'substantial number of millions' but Bank of England sources confirmed that the total was possibly more than [pounds sterling]40million. The only bigger UK robbery involved City bonds rather than cash.

Teams of forensic officers were scouring the Vale Road depot, which is surrounded by 10ft metal fencing.

Securitas spokesman Carl Courtney said: 'This was clearly a wellorganised, professional raid. We are working with the police to find those responsible.'

He added: 'The amount stolen is likely to be millions, but we do not know exactly how much. The police are combing the site for forensic evidence and until we can go in and carry out an audit we will not know how much was taken. …

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