| Monday, January 17, 2005
| HOW TO STEAL US$42 MILLION WITHOUT A TRACE
|North Ireland robbers looted bak without
even entering it.
On an icy, black Sunday night, police officers brought
terrible news to the rural idyll of Kevin McMullan's home:
A relative had just been killed in a crash, they said.
It was a lie -- and it launched one of the world's biggest
Once inside, the phony officers put a gun to McMullan's
head and tied him up, blindfolded his wife,and took her away
at gunpoint in her own car into the forest.
They told McMullan, a senior executive at Northern Bank
in his mid-30's that he must get the gang into the bank's
major cash vault the next night. If he or another abducted
bank official, Chris Ward, raised any alarm, their families
wouid be put to death.
Alarm at a farmhouse
Police said Wwednesday that the gang got away with more than
$42 million. And the 45-strong detective task force admitted it
would be hard to track down a gang that left no apparent evidence.
Police did'nt learn of the crime until after 11pm. Monday, three
hours after surveillance cameras recorded the gunmen's cash packed
van disappearing down Belfast's major highway. McMullen's wife-- free
of her blindfold but in soaking wet sneakers and suffering hypothermia
-- emerged from the forest to raise the alarm at a farmhouse.
Around the same time, on the edge of Belfast, gang members released
the 23 year old Ward's mother, father, brother and brother's girlfriend.
"This was a carefully planned operation by professional criminals
who obviously had done their homework," Detective Supt. Andy Sproule said.
Trimmed their hair
Sproule said the gang took extensive precaustions against leaving
traces of their indentities. "We have a long way to go before we have
recovered the money or arrested the individuals", he said.
The gang remained masked and gloved and wore workmen's overalls,
which Northern Ireland para military groups wear on operations
then burn afterward. Police said they suspect the robbers also
trimmed their hair to reduce the chance of dropped strands.
The gunmen burned McMullen's car to destroy DNA.
Both McMullan and Ward are "key holders" who work in Northern
Ireland Bank's confidential underground vault, which stores cash
from businesses and supplies the bank's branches and ATM's.
The vault received exceptional volumes of cash Monday, reflecting
the bustling build up to Christmas.
The gang let both executives to work around noon Monday, then
ordered one of them-- the police won't say which -- to carry out
a trial run 90 minutes after the bank closed. He carried a gym
bag containing more than $3million to a man diguised in a scarf,
then went back inside to await orders.
Once the gang decided police had'nt been alerted, they drove a
white van equipped to the bank's vehicle entrance on a side street.
Inside, McMullen and Ward triggered codes that opened an other
street door and internal door.
Joke may be on them
Sproule said no member of the gang acutally went inside the bank,
but remained at the other end of a conveyor belt as Northern Ireland
Bank's own officials below cleared out the vault, one plastic container
of cash at a time -- enough bundles to stack 30 stories high. The van
departed, then returned about an hour later for a scond load.
Despite the smooth operation, experts predicted the thieves will have
a hard time using the currency because almost all of it was specially
produiced by Northern Ireland banks.
Jeffrey Robinson, author of THE MONEY LAUNDERER, said the gang took too
much cash, and of too conspicuous a design, to spend or even hide.
"The money is fundamentally useless", he said.
(abstracted from CHICSUNTIMES/ by Shawn Pogatchnik/Associated Press)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 3:01 AM