Monday, March 06, 2006

$19M found from huge UK robbery

LONDON, England -- Police investigating the theft of more than £53 million ($92 million) in a raid on a cash warehouse in southern England have recovered £11 million ($19.3 million) so far, police have revealed.

Kent Chief Constable Michael Fuller also told reporters on Monday that a significant amount of money had been recovered in the previous 24 hours, but declined to elaborate on the exact figure.

He also said 17 people had been arrested and five people charged with offenses including conspiracy to rob, kidnapping and handling stolen goods.

Britain's biggest-ever cash robbery was carried out nearly two weeks ago when a gang posing as police officers seized the manager of the Securitas depot in Tonbridge, in southeast England, took his wife and son hostage and threatened to kill them unless he helped them get inside the compound.

Fuller said £9 million had been found at a vehicle repair business in southeast London following a raid by officers on Friday.

Earlier last week, specialist search teams swooped on an isolated farm in Kent and removed several vehicles and a small amount of cash.

A van believed to have been used in the robbery has also been found, containing £1.3 million. However, most of the £53,116,760 stolen remains missing.

Fuller said the scale of the operation was "massive," with more than 300 police officers and staff working on the hunt for those responsible.

Since the robbery on February 22, Fuller said police had seized more than 3,500 items, taken more than 300 witness statements, searched at least 20 premises in addition and confiscated several vehicles.

Fuller said the many "skilled and experienced" investigators in Kent Police were "following up every lead" and examining "every shred of available evidence" in the hunt for the gang.

The force was using computer technology it had invested in recently, including a vehicle license plate recognition system covering Britain's road network and ports.

The case would "go down in the history of crime in the UK," he added.

CNN Europe 03/2006


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