24 February 2006

Police probe links between £50m heist and Belfast raid

Irish Independent

Jason Bennetto
24 February 2006

DETECTIVES in Britain are investigating possible links between a record £50m (€73m) cash heist in Kent and the Northern Bank raid in Belfast.

Both raids bore remarkable similarities.

They were carried out with military precision; both involved the kidnapping of family members of high-level staff with access to keys; and police believe both took place with "inside" help.

A record £2m reward was offered yesterday for the recovery of the banknotes and capture of the raiders who carried out the heist at the Securitas cash warehouse in Tonbridge, Kent on Wednesday.

The gang were described as a team of "top-level" criminals and Kent Police said yesterday they feared some of them may have already fled to Europe via the Channel Tunnel.

Assistant chief constable Adrian Leppard said an alert had gone out to all points of entry, footage from CCTV was being examined, and police forces abroad had been contacted in the hunt for the gang.

He also said Kent Police were in contact with police in the North to investigate links with the £26m Northern Bank robbery in Belfast in 2004.

Staff at the Securitas warehouse are being investigated by police who believe the robbers almost certainly had "inside" help in the raid.

The gang took between £25m and £50m in cash.

Two people - a man and a woman - were arrested last night in connection with the robbery. They were being held at undisclosed police stations and will be questioned today on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery.

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