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Thieves dig into Brazil bank, take $68 million

Thieves tunneled into a bank in northeastern Brazil and stole $68 million, the biggest bank heist in the nation’s history, police said Monday.
/ Source: Reuters

Thieves tunneled into a bank in northeastern Brazil and stole $68 million, the biggest bank heist in the nation’s history, police said Monday.

“It’s something you see in the movies. ... They dug a 200-meter (650-foot) tunnel that goes underneath two (city) blocks. They’ve been digging for three months,” police investigator Francisco Queiroga told Reuters by telephone.

The thieves broke into a branch of the central bank in the northeastern state of Ceara over the weekend and removed 156 million reals ($68 million).

The theft was not discovered until Monday morning because the bank was closed.

“The tunnel was dug right underneath the vault,” Queiroga said. “We’ve never heard of so much money being stolen from a bank in Brazil.”

Federal police in Ceara said it was the biggest known heist in Brazil and that between six and 10 people were suspected of doing the job.

The theft exceeds the amount stolen by Britain’s “Great Train Robber” Ronnie Biggs, who fled to Brazil and lived in the country for many years.

He and 11 other gang members robbed a Glasgow-to-London mail train in 1963 and made off with 2.6 million pounds — some 30 million pounds ($53 million) in today’s money.