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U.K. police find van containing $2.3 million

British police searching for thieves who got away with about $87 million from a British security company said Sunday they found weapons and $2.3 million in a van they believe the gang used.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Police searching for thieves who got away with around $87 million from a British security company said Sunday they found weapons and $2.3 million in a van they believe the gang used.

The sophisticated robbery of the Securitas Cash Management Ltd. company cash depot on Wednesday is believed to have been Britain’s biggest-ever currency theft.

Police said the dumped money was discovered in black sacks in a white van found parked outside a hotel on Friday.

The vehicle, which has been scrutinized for forensic evidence, also held guns, body armor and face masks, Adrian Leppard, assistant chief constable for Kent Police, told a news conference.

Investigators and Securitas believe around $87 million was stolen in the theft. Leppard said an exact figure is likely to be known Monday, when the firm completes work to account for the lost banknotes.

He said that the amount left in the van had been considerably more than expected.

‘Making mistakes’
“The net is closing,” said Leppard. “Leaving firearms, clothing and cash in the van suggests to me that there are people in the gang who are now making mistakes.”

He said a 49-year-old man had been arrested and questioned by police Saturday — the sixth arrest in connection with the robbery. The suspect and two other men arrested Saturday, ages 55 and 33, have all been released on bail.

Three other people had earlier been questioned and released on bail.

Leppard did not provide details on the number or type of weapons found in the Ford van, left at the Ashford International Hotel in southeastern England, but said it presented “really good opportunities” for forensic evidence.

Metal containers
Police also revealed Sunday that in another location they discovered 14 empty metal containers used to move the banknotes stolen in the raid. They were found late Friday in fields in the village of Detling, around 20 miles from the scene of the raid.

The thieves, who dressed as police officers, stopped a Securitas manager, 51-year-old Colin Dixon, as he drove home from the cash depot near the Channel Tunnel, police said.

A second group — also dressed as officers — went to Dixon’s home, telling his wife, Lynn, 45, he had been in an accident and taking her away with the couple’s 9-year-old son.

Family members were threatened by the thieves, but released unhurt once the raid had been carried out, police said.