updated 7/18/2007 12:50:44 AM ET 2007-07-18T04:50:44

Thieves plucked a two-ton vault from a bank with a fork lift, then ditched it several miles north of the city — with $2 inside, police said.

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“We feel like that was a statement to mock us,” Van Buren police Detective Keith Lindley said of the meager cash left inside.

Police say thieves knocked a hole through a wall at the First Community Bank on July 1 and grabbed the vault and its $113,000 in cash and travelers checks.

Lindley says the culprits first tried to drill through the safe, then used a cutting torch.

“The heat from the blowtorch would have been enough to burn the money inside,” Lindley said. “We’re guessing they filled the safe with water first, then dried out the money later.”

A passer-by spotted the vault on an asphalt driveway off Old Highway 68 on Saturday, Benton County sheriff’s Deputy Doug Gay said.

Investigators suspect the bank heist was carried out by the same people who stole a safe from a restaurant in Fort Smith on May 28. In that case, the thieves cut a hole in the roof to enter.

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