Sat, May 27, 2006
Police Refuse To Comment On Nature Of Wednesday Robbery
What had been one of the biggest successes for the Johannesburg
police department, has now turned into one of its biggest blunders,
as millions of dollars the department had recovered following a
daring airplane robbery in March... were stolen again this week,
this time right out of a police safe.
South Africa's Star newspaper reports sources within the police
agency have confirmed $13 million of the more than $16 million
recovered by police after a quick investigation of the airplane
robbery -- in which a group of heavily armed thieves held up a
South African Airways 747 on the ramp at Johannesburg International
-- resulted in 13 arrests.
Local media report that thieves drilled through the door of a
large walk-in safe and evidence locker at the North Rand Serious
and Violent Crimes Unit in Benoni Wednesday night, and absconded
with the loot. Police have confirmed the robbery, but so far
haven't confirmed what was stolen.
"We are following up on certain information that may lead to
early arrests," police superintendent Eugene Opperman said, adding
the sources cited by the Star "don't have all their facts right"
regarding the money.
Police are also
reportedly checking the backgrounds of all who had contacted with
the money, including members of a firm the agency had contracted
with to match serial numbers on the stolen loot.
As Aero-News reported, on
March 25 a gang of 24 persons armed with AK-47s held up security
guards watching over the SAA 747, and made off with bags stuffed
with more than $16 million in US dollars.
Four days after the robbery, however, two of the gang members
were apprehended as they were trying to enter Zimbabwe. More
arrests followed... and while 13 of the alleged robbers have since
been caught, another 11 are still on the run.
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