Securitas depot robbery


Securitas depot robbery

The Securitas depot robbery was a robbery which took place in the early hours of 22 February 2006, between 01:00 and 02:15 UTC in England, an operation that succeeded in stealing the largest cash amount in British crime history. At least six men abducted and threatened the family of the manager, tied up fourteen staff members and stole £53,116,760 [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/4756454.stm Record £53m stolen in depot raid] , BBC, 27 February 2006] (about US$92.5 million at the time of the robbery) in bank notes from a Securitas Cash Management Ltd depot in Vale Road, Tonbridge, Kent.

Robbery

The manager of the depot, Colin Dixon, was abducted at about 18:30 on 21 February, apparently while driving his Nissan Almera to his home in Herne Bay. He was pulled over on the A249 just outside Stockbury, a village North East of Maidstone, by what he thought was an unmarked police vehicle due to the blue lights behind the front grill. A man approached him in high-visibility clothing and a police-style hat. The manager proceeded to get into the police impostor's car, thinking that he was a police officer, where he was then handcuffed by others in the vehicle. He was then driven west on the M20 motorway to the West Malling bypass where he was bound further, transferred into a white van and transported to a farm in Staplehurst, Kent.

As this was taking place, the manager's wife and eight-year-old son were being held hostage at their home in Herne Bay, after they answered the door to men dressed in police uniforms, who falsely informed them that the manager had been involved in a road traffic accident. They were then driven to the farm at which the manager was being held, where he was told at gunpoint that failure to cooperate could put him and his family in danger.

The depot manager, his wife and son were taken to the Securitas depot in Tonbridge at around 01:00, travelling in a plain white van, being held at gunpoint. At the depot, 14 members of staff were bound by robbers, armed with handguns and wearing balaclavas.

The robbery came to an end at approximately 02:45. The staff including Mr Dixon's wife and son were left locked in cash cages. However, Mr Dixon's son was small enough to be able to squeeze through the bars and free the others. It was still another half hour before staff members, who had been tied up, managed to raise the alarm [Kent & Sussex Courier 29th June] . Police officers arriving on the scene discovered staff, the manager and his family, bound but physically unharmed.

The notes will be difficult to trace and link to the robbery because they are used notes and not newly printed, unlike the notes stolen in the Belfast robbery of 2004.

The Bank of England, to which the money belonged, was reimbursed £25 million by Securitas the same day, and has assured the public that Securitas will make up any additional loss.

In July 2007, Securitas announced that it intended to exit the Cash Management market and withdraw from the joint venture with Barclays and HSBC.

Investigation and arrests

*On 23 February 2006 at around 19:00 police confirmed the arrest in Forest Hill, South London of a man aged 29 and a woman aged 31, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery. There were thought to be at least six armed robbers involved.
*On the same day, a 41-year-old woman was arrested at the Portman Building Society branch in Bromley in South London by the Metropolitan Police. The woman was moved to a police station in Kent to be questioned by detectives on suspicion of handling stolen goods. According to some news reports she was dressed as a Salvation Army nurse and apparently tried to pay in £6,000 cash bound in tape marked "Tonbridge".
*Securitas and their insurers have offered a reward of £2 million for information leading to the thieves' capture. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/4743638.stm £2m reward for depot raid leads] , BBC, 23 February 2006]
*As the investigation progressed, police traced a number of the vehicles involved in the robbery including a Parcelforce van thought to have been used in the abduction of the depot manager and his family. The van was found abandoned at the "Hook and Hatchet" pub in the village of Hucking, near Maidstone. A Volvo S60 and a red Vauxhall Vectra also thought to have been used (and made to look like unmarked police cars) in the abductions were found in the village of Leeds, near Leeds Castle overnight on 23 February 2006. The Volvo had apparently been set alight. On the same day Colin Dixon's Nissan Almera was also found in the car park of the "Cock Horse" pub in Detling.
*On 24 February 2006 Kent Police recovered a white Ford Transit van from the car park of the Ashford International Hotel. The van was found after a tip-off from a member of the public. The van and its contents were taken away from the hotel for forensic examination, and on 26 February 2006, it was announced that the van contained £1.3 million, along with guns, balaclavas and body armour. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/4752850.stm Depot robbers left behind £1.3m] , BBC, 26 February 2006]
*Metal cages and packaging material, that may have been used to transport the money, were recovered in a field near Detling on Friday 24 February.
*Forensic teams, accompanied by armed police officers, also raided a house in Southborough near Tunbridge Wells on Saturday evening 25 February.
*On the afternoon of 26 February, Kent Police challenged two men who subsequently fled in a blue BMW 3 Series coupe on Marine Parade in Tankerton, near Whitstable. Police marksmen then appeared to shoot out at least one tyre bringing the car to a halt and subsequently arresting the driver and one other man nearby. Other reports have suggested the police may in fact have used a "Stinger" device. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/02/27/nrob27.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/02/27/ixnewstop.html Police open fire in hunt for £50m gang] , Daily Telegraph]
*Two individuals were detained by police on 27 February 2006 in the Greenwich area of London by armed officers.
*The white 7.5 ton Renault Midlum lorry allegedly used to transport the stolen money was eventually recovered by police at an undisclosed location on Tuesday 28 February 2006. At the same time Kent police raided Elderden Farm in the Staplehurst area, apparently conducting extensive forensic searches of the surrounding land and buildings and seizing vehicles. Searches of local wells were also undertaken by police divers. The farm is owned by a local car dealer who could not be located at the time of the raid. A further arrest also took place of a woman who became the twelfth person detained during the investigation, most of whom have subsequently been released on bail. [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2063387,00.html Police find the getaway lorry used in £53m raid] , The Times]
*Late on 1 March 2006, Kent Police confirmed that John Fowler (a car dealer and the owner of Elderden Farm) had been charged with conspiracy to rob Securitas and three charges of kidnapping, in the case of Colin, Lynn and Craig Dixon; Stuart Royle had been charged with conspiracy to rob; and Kim Shackleton had been charged with handling stolen goods. They appeared at Maidstone Magistrates' Court on 2 March, and were remanded in custody until 13 March, when they appeared at Maidstone Crown Court. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4764906.stm Three in court over £53m robbery] , BBC, 2 March 2006]
*On 2 March 2006, Jetmir Bucpapa was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, and Lea John Rusha was charged with the same offence on 3 March. They appeared in court on 3 March and were remanded in custody until a preliminary hearing at Maidstone Crown Court on the 13th.
*During a raid on an industrial depot in Welling on 2 March 2006, a currently unknown amount of cash was discovered, and a further arrest was made. It has been reported that the amount of money is several million pounds. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/4770330.stm Millions found after depot raid] , BBC, 3 March 2006]
*A further arrest was made in the Bexley area of London on Saturday 4 March in connection with the robbery. The man was subsequently released on bail bringing the total number of arrests at that stage to seventeen.
*As of 6 March police had recovered £11m as a result of various raids and forensic searches.
*On 7 March two employees of a firm that had been contracted by Securitas were arrested, strengthening speculations that it had been an "inside job" to some extent.
*As of 9 March police had recovered £19.7m as a result of various raids and searches
*On 25 June 2006, in a joint operation with Moroccan police, four men were arrested at a shopping centre in the Souissi district of the capital Rabat. Moroccan police said they had to use "specialist techniques to arrest the suspects because they were specialists in martial arts and firearms" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5115774.stm Arrest in Morocco over £53m raid] , BBC 26 June 2006] Kent Police said in a statement that they had been tracking Lee Murray, a 26year old from Sidcup, South London, for three months. They are presently seeking his extradition from Morocco. Murray was arrested with friend Paul "The Enforcer" Allen, who police wish to interview, but on whom there is not presently sufficient evidence to charge. There is no treaty between the UK and Morroco and the process could take months. Later Moroccan police revealed that Murray had also been charged with possession of “hard drugs”. An officer said this could complicate extradition proceedings because in theory Murray would have to serve time in Morocco first for any offences committed there [http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006290483,00.html Sun Newspaper article] , The Sun, 28 June 2006]
*On 27 June 2006 Kent Police confirmed the news of Murray's arrest in Morocco, and also stated that over 30 people had now been arrested in conjunction with the investigation [http://www.kent.police.uk/News/Latest_News/Securitas%20robbery%20.html Kent Police Press Release] , Kent Police, 27 June 2006]
*In December 2006, it was revealed that Kent Police have requested £6 million from the Home Office towards their investigation cost. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/6198276.stm Police 'need £6m for heist costs'] , BBC News, 1 December 2006]
*In February 2007, almost one year on from the robbery, it was reported that one of the men questioned in connection with the robbery (Sean Lupton) and previously released on bail was missing having failed to answer the conditions of his bail [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-6420069,00.html]
*Also in February 2007 it was reported that one of the suspects, Lee Murray, currently detained in Morocco could be returned to Britain in exchange for suspected terrorist Mohamed Karbouzi, who is wanted for questioning by the Moroccan authorities in connection with the 2003 Casablanca bombings. [http://www.kentnews.co.uk/kent-news/Securitas-suspect-held-in-Morocco-_may-be-swapped-for-terrorist_-newsinkent2796.aspx]

Trial

The trial began on 26th June 2007 at the Old Bailey in London, presided over by Mr Justice Penry-Davey. [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/6237470.stm|title=Trial over £53m cash robbery starts|publisher=BBC News|date=2007-06-26] The first three weeks of the trial focused on the role of the manager Colin Dixon with the defence cross-examination highlighting 'co-incidences' in his conduct which might be interpreted as suggesting he was the inside man. [cite news|url=http://www.thisiscourier.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=142736&command=displayContent&sourceNode=244203&contentPK=17818013&folderPk=113791&pNodeId=244204|title=Manager faces questions over 'coincidences'|publisher="Kent and Sussex Courier"|date=2007-07-13]

On 28 January 2008, the jury returned guilty verdicts on Stuart Royle, Jetmir Bucpapa, Roger Coutts, Lea Rusha and Emir Hysenaj. John Fowler and Keith Borer were cleared of all charges. [cite news| url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7199584.stm| title=Five found guilty of £53m robbery| date=2008-01-28| publisher=BBC News]

On 29 January, 2008 Emir Hysenaj was sentenced to 20 years in prison with an order that he serve a minimum of 10 years. Stuart Royle, Lea Rusha, Jetmir Bucpapa and Roger Coutts were given life sentences with an order that they serve a minimum of 15 years. [cite news| url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7214598.stm| title=Five jailed for £53m cash robbery| date=2008-01-28| publisher=BBC News]

Film

Time Inc. announced on 4 August 2008 that they would be making a film about Lee Murray's alleged role in the robbery, based on an article about him in Sports Illustrated called "Breaking the Bank". In addition to the robbery, the film will also concentrate on Murray's life, including his mixed martial arts career. [cite news|url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117990056.html?categoryId=13&cs=1|title=Time Inc. to produce in-house films|date=2008-08-05|publisher=Variety]

imilar incidents

The 2004 Northern Bank robbery in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was known as the biggest cash robbery in UK history, after £26.4m was seized, a record that has been broken by the Tonbridge raid. The only larger cash robbery in history was in March 2003, when approximately US $1 billion was stolen from the Central Bank of Iraq, shortly after the United States began bombing Baghdad. The raid has also been compared to the Great Train Robbery of 1963. Although the figure stolen in that robbery was only £2.6 million, this was equivalent to around £40 million now, after inflation is taken into account.

References

ee also

* Northern Bank Robbery - A similar robbery from 2004 that occurred in Northern Ireland.
* List of famous bank robbers and robberies

External links

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/5163918.stm 10 July 2006 Court Hearing Report]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/4742972.stm BBC index to coverage]
* [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/02/22/utheft.xml&sSheet=/portal/2006/02/22/ixportaltop.html Daily Telegraph report]
* [http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000102&sid=aw8qnGp52.OI&refer=uk Bloomberg report]
* [http://www.kent.police.uk/ Kent Police - further detailed information and appeals]


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