Securitas depot robbery

Last updated

Securitas depot robbery
Securitas Depot, Vale Road, Tonbridge, Kent - geograph.org.uk - 1124839-Optimised.jpg
The depot
Date21–22 February 2006 (2006-02-21 2006-02-22)
Time18:30–03:15 GMT
Coordinates Coordinates: 51°11′28″N0°16′42″E / 51.1911°N 0.2782°E / 51.1911; 0.2782
OutcomeLargest cash robbery in British history (£53,116,760) [1]
SuspectsOver 30 arrests [1]
Charges
  • Conspiracy to rob
  • Conspiracy to kidnap
  • Conspiracy to possess firearms
  • Assisting an offender
Convictions
  • Jetmir Bucpapa (life)
  • Roger Coutts (life)
  • Emir Hysenaj (20 years)
  • Lee Murray (25 years)
  • Stuart Royle (life)
  • Lea Rusha (life)

The Securitas depot robbery was a large heist in Tonbridge, Kent, England. It began with a kidnapping on the evening of 21 February 2006 18:30 GMT and ended in the early hours of 22 February, when the criminals left the depot with over £53 million cash. It was the UK's largest cash robbery and the gang left behind another £154 million only because they did not have the room to take it.

Contents

After abducting the manager of the depot and his family, the gang forced entry to the depot. Armed with weapons including AK-47 assault rifles and a Škorpion submachine gun, the gang tied up fourteen members of staff and left with £53,116,760 in used and unused Bank of England sterling banknotes. Most of the getaway vehicles were found in the following week, one containing £1.3 million in stolen notes. Another £7 million was recovered in Welling and, by June 2006, over 30 people had been arrested in relation to the crime.

At trial in London, five people were convicted and received long sentences, including Emir Hysenaj, the inside man. Lee Murray, the alleged mastermind of the heist, was arrested in Morocco having incriminated himself in a recording on his mobile phone, which he had abandoned at the site of a car crash. He successfully fought extradition to the UK and eventually was imprisoned in Morocco. As of 2016, £32 million had not been recovered.

Robbery

On Tuesday 21 February 2006, the manager of the Securitas depot, Colin Dixon, was driving his silver Nissan Almera on the A249. At about 18:30, he was pulled over just outside Stockbury, a village northeast of Maidstone in Kent, by what he thought was an unmarked police car, due to the flashing blue lights behind the front grill. [2] [3] A man approached him in high-visibility clothing and Dixon got into the other car, whereupon he was handcuffed. He was driven west on the M20 motorway to the West Malling bypass, where he was tied up and transferred into a white van which took him to a farm in Staplehurst. [2]

At the same time, Dixon's wife and eight-year-old son were being taken hostage at their home in Herne Bay, after they answered the door to men dressed in police uniforms. The men claimed Dixon had been involved in a car accident before abducting the two and holding them at the Staplehurst farm with the manager. Dixon was told at gunpoint that failure to co-operate would put him and his family in danger. [4]

At around 01:00 on Wednesday 22 February 2006, Dixon, his wife, and his son were taken in a white van to the Securitas depot in Tonbridge. Upon being let in by Dixon, a member of the gang forced staff at gunpoint to open the gates to admit the van and other vehicles. The gang members' faces were hidden by balaclavas and they were armed with handguns, shotguns, AK-47 assault rifles and a Škorpion submachine gun. The family and 14 members of staff were tied up and locked in cash cages. [4] [2]

The gang filled a 7.5 tonne white Renault lorry with £53,116,760 in used and unused Bank of England sterling banknotes. Another £154 million would not fit in the lorry and was left behind when the gang departed at around 02:15. [4] [1] At 03:15 staff triggered an alarm which called the police. The hostages were all unharmed but shaken. [4] [5] The Bank of England was reimbursed £25 million by Securitas the same day, and assured the public that Securitas would make up any additional losses. [6]

Investigation and arrests

The following day (Thursday 23 February 2006) Securitas and their insurers offered a reward of £2 million for any information about the heist, which Crimestoppers stated was the largest reward ever offered in the UK. [7] Kent Police said the heist had been meticulously planned by organised crime and that at least £20 million had been stolen, possibly as much as £50 million. [7] By the evening of 23 February 2006, two arrests had been made in Forest Hill, south London. A man aged 29 and a woman aged 31 were detained at separate houses on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery. [3] [8] A third person, a 41-year-old woman, was arrested at a branch of the Portman Building Society in Bromley on suspicion of handling stolen goods. [8]

The Hook and Hatchet Pub, Hucking, where the former Parcelforce van was found Hook and Hatchet Pub, Hucking - geograph.org.uk - 1154886.jpg
The Hook and Hatchet Pub, Hucking, where the former Parcelforce van was found

Also on the Thursday, police discovered a number of the vehicles involved in the robbery including a former Parcelforce van thought to have been used in the abduction of Colin Dixon and his family, which was found abandoned at the Hook and Hatchet pub in the village of Hucking, near Maidstone. [4] Dixon's Nissan Almera was found in the car park of the Cock Horse pub in Detling. [4] A Volvo S60 and a red Vauxhall Vectra, the cars believed to have been mocked up as police cars, were found near Leeds Castle. [2] The next day, Friday 24 February, metal cages thought to have been used to transport the money were recovered in a field near Detling. [3] Police recovered a white Ford Transit van from the car park of the Ashford International Hotel, after a tip-off from a member of the public. The van and its contents were removed for forensic examination, and on 26 February 2006, it was announced that the van contained £1.3 million, along with guns, balaclavas and body armour. [9] [3]

On the evening of Saturday 25 February 2006, forensic teams and armed police officers raided the houses of Lea Rusha and Jetmir Bucpapa in Southborough near Tunbridge Wells while neither were at home. In Rusha's house police discovered shotgun shells and hand-drawn plans of the depot. [10] On the afternoon of the next day, Kent Police challenged Rusha and Bucpapa on the street in Tankerton, near Whitstable. They fled in a blue BMW 3 Series coupe. The car was halted; some witnesses say police marksmen shot out a tyre while others say a "stinger" device was used. The driver and another man were arrested. [11] [3] [2] On 27 February 2006, two individuals were detained by police in the Greenwich area of London by armed officers. The following day, the white 7.5 ton Renault Midlum lorry believed to have been used to transport the stolen money was recovered by police. [3] [12] The same day, Kent police raided Elderden Farm in the Staplehurst area, conducting extensive forensic searches of the surrounding land and buildings and seizing vehicles. [3] [12]

On Thursday 2 March, police raided a car yard in Welling and discovered £7 million in cash. [13] On the same day, three people appeared at Maidstone Magistrates' Court. John Fowler (a car dealer and the owner of Elderden Farm) was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, handling stolen goods, and three charges of kidnapping; Stuart Royle was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery; and Kim Shackleton was charged with handling stolen goods. All three were remanded in custody. [14] Jetmir Bucpapa and Lea John Rusha appeared in court on 3 March, both charged with conspiracy to commit robbery. They were remanded in custody until a preliminary hearing at Maidstone Crown Court on 13 March. [15] By 3 March, the total number of people arrested in connection with the heist was fourteen. [15]

On 25 June 2006, in a joint operation with local police, four British men were arrested at a shopping centre in Morocco's capital Rabat after a three-month long investigation. [16] Of the four, only Lee Murray, a 26-year-old from Sidcup, south London, was wanted regarding the robbery. Kent Police confirmed his arrest and stated that over 30 people had now been arrested as part of the investigation. [17]

By the year's end, police had asked the Home Office for at least £6 million towards expenditure so far investigating the case and future spending on preparations for trials. [18]

In December 2006, Sean Lupton, who had been released on bail, was recorded as missing, having failed to answer the conditions of his bail. [19]

Trial

The Old Bailey in London Central Criminal Court - geograph.org.uk - 650721.jpg
The Old Bailey in London

The trial of eight people began on 26 June 2007 at the Old Bailey in London, [20] The first three weeks of the trial focused on the role of the manager Colin Dixon with the defence cross-examination highlighting 'co-incidences' in his conduct which might be interpreted as suggesting he was the inside man. [21] In fact, the inside man had been Emir Hysenaj, an Albanian man who worked at the depot. He had secretly filmed its layout with a belt camera. [2] Michelle Hogg, who had made prosthetic disguises for the men, decided during the trial to turn Queen's evidence and implicate the others in return for her charges being dropped. [19]

On 28 January 2008, the jury returned guilty verdicts on Stuart Royle, Jetmir Bucpapa, Roger Coutts, Lea Rusha, and Emir Hysenaj. [22] The next day Emir Hysenaj was sentenced to 20 years in prison with an order that he serve a minimum of 10 years. Stuart Royle, Lea Rusha, Jetmir Bucpapa, and Roger Coutts were given life sentences with an order to serve a minimum of 15 years. [23]

Prosecutors dropped charges against Kim Shackleton, Raluca Millen and Chris Price, and the girlfriends of Royle, Bucpapa and Rusha respectively. Millen and Katie Philp had been charged with conspiracy to rob, conspiracy to kidnap, and conspiracy to possess firearms. Shackleton had been charged with assisting an offender. [24] John Fowler (on whose property some of the money was found) and Keith Borer were both acquitted. [22] [24]

Morocco trial

In June 2010, Lee Murray was jailed in Morocco for ten years for his part in the robbery; the sentence was later increased to 25 years. [25] The Kent Police Detective, Superintendent Keith Judge, said "I'm pleased Murray will now begin serving a significant prison sentence for his part in the Tonbridge robbery." [26] Former cage-fighter Murray was claimed by other gang members to have been the mastermind behind the heist. He is believed to have worn a prosthesis to impersonate one of the police officers who abducted Dixon, and to be the person dubbed "Stopwatch" by detectives, caught on CCTV directing the robbers to move as fast as possible. [25]

He had fled the UK four days after the heist, but had crashed his car prior to the robbery and left his mobile phone in the wreckage. On the phone was an accidental recording he had made discussing plans for the heist with fellow plotter Lea Rusha. After being arrested in Morocco, Murray successfully fought extradition to the UK on account of his father being Moroccan. [25] In Morocco, Murray and his accomplice Paul Allen had spent their loot on houses, jewellery and narcotics. [26]

Aftermath

Ten years after the heist in 2016, £32 million had not been recovered. [27] The missing money was covered by insurance. Securitas no longer handles cash and sold the Vale Road depot to Vaultex, a company owned jointly by Barclays and HSBC. [1] In the opinion of a former detective superintendent, the cash will have long ago disappeared into organised crime networks. [1]

Keyinde 'Kane' Patterson, whom the police and CPS believe to be a key player in both the robbery and kidnapping, still remains missing and is thought to be residing in the West Indies with a large quantity of the stolen money. [28] In February 2013, Malcolm Constable, who was believed by his brother Derek to be associated with the robbery, was found dead of a self-inflicted shotgun wound. Kent Police stated they had no record of any incidents involving Constable. [29] Paul Allen was shot and severely injured on 11 July 2019 at his home in north London. He was taken to hospital in a critical condition. [30]

Similar incidents

The Northern Bank robbery in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was previously thought to be the biggest cash robbery in UK history, after £26.5 million was stolen in 2004. This record was broken by the Tonbridge raid. [31] Worldwide, the largest cash robbery in history was in March 2003, when approximately US$1 billion was stolen from the Central Bank of Iraq, shortly after the United States began the 2003 invasion of Iraq. [32]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Brink's-Mat robbery occurred at the Heathrow International Trading Estate, London, on 26 November 1983. £26 million worth of gold bullion, diamonds, and cash was stolen from a warehouse. The bullion was the property of Johnson Matthey Bankers Ltd, which collapsed the following year after making large loans to frauds and insolvent firms. Two men were convicted, and the majority of the gold has never been recovered. Insurers Lloyd's of London paid out for the losses. Several deaths have been linked to the case, and there are links to the Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary in April 2015.

Northern Bank robbery Large bank robbery in Belfast, Northern Ireland

In the Northern Bank robbery cash was stolen from the headquarters of Northern Bank on Donegall Square West in Belfast, Northern Ireland. On 20 December 2004, having previously taken the families of two bank officials hostage to ensure their co-operation, an armed gang seized a total of £26.5 million mostly in unused pounds sterling banknotes. This was the one of the largest bank robberies in the history of the United Kingdom.

An inside job is a crime, usually larceny, robbery or embezzlement, which occurs when a person holding a position of trust abuses their status.

Brinks

The Brink's Company is an American private security and protection company headquartered outside Richmond, Virginia. Its core business is Brink's Inc.; its Sister brand Brink's Home Security company operates separately and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. The Brink's brand and reputation span around the globe. In 2013, its international network serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs approximately 134,000 people. Operations include approximately 1,100 facilities, and 13,300 vehicles. The company emerged from the Pittston Company and changed its name to the Brink's Company in 2003.

Lee Brahim Murray-Lamrani is an English born Moroccan career criminal, drug dealer, convicted bank robber and former mixed martial arts fighter. In 2005, his MMA career was cut short, after he was stabbed multiple times outside a Mayfair nightclub. He was arrested in Rabat, Morocco in June 2006 and sentenced to 10 years in prison in June 2010, for masterminding the armed Securitas depot robbery in Kent, England where over $92 million (£53,116,760) of cash bank notes belonging to the Bank of England were stolen by Murray and his associates on 22 February 2006. It was the largest known cash robbery in the world during peacetime. After a foiled attempt to escape prison and a failed appeal, his jail term was extended to 25 years on 30 November 2010. He is currently being held at a prison in Tifelt, northwestern Morocco, and despite being incarcerated fathered a child from prison in 2010. In 2018, Murray in an interview stated he was training to fight in prison, and still planned a UFC comeback, with the hope of securing a pardon from King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

Kent Police United Kingdom police for county of Kent

Kent Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the 1,433 sq mi (3,710 km2) and approximately 1.8 million inhabitants of Kent, a county in the south east of England.

NOKAS robbery

On 5 April 2004, at 8am the Nokas Cash Handling in Stavanger, Norway was raided by heavily armed men. It was the biggest-ever heist in Norway.

The Loomis Fargo Bank Robbery was a robbery of $17.3 million in cash from the Charlotte, North Carolina, regional office vault of Loomis, Fargo & Co. on the evening of October 4, 1997. The robbery was committed by Loomis vault supervisor David Scott Ghantt, his married girlfriend Kelly Campbell, Steven Eugene Chambers, his wife Michelle Chambers, Michael Gobbies, and four other co-conspirators. An FBI criminal investigation ultimately resulted in the arrest and conviction of eight people directly involved in the heist, as well as sixteen others who had indirectly helped them, and the recovery of approximately 88% of the stolen money.

Baker Street robbery Burglary of the safety deposit boxes in London in 1971

The Baker Street robbery was the burglary of safety deposit boxes at the Baker Street branch of Lloyds Bank in London, on the night of 11 September 1971. A gang tunnelled 40 feet (12 m) from a rented shop two doors away to come up through the floor of the vault. The value of the property stolen is unknown, but is likely to have been between £1.25 and £3 million ; only £231,000 was recovered by the police.

Loomis (company)

Loomis is a cash handling company. The modern company was formed in 1997 by the consolidation of two armoured security concerns, Wells Fargo Armored Service and Loomis Armored Inc. Their international network covers over 400 operating locations in the US and eleven western European countries.

Millennium Dome raid Attempted robbery of diamond exhibition

The Millennium Dome raid was an attempted robbery of the Millennium Dome's diamond exhibition in Greenwich, South East London occurring on 7 November 2000. A local gang planned to ram-raid the De Beers diamond exhibition which was being held in the riverside Dome at the time. The gang had then planned to escape via the Thames in a speedboat.

2009 Bank of Ireland robbery

The 2009 Bank of Ireland robbery was a large robbery of cash from the College Green cash centre of the Bank of Ireland in Dublin, Ireland, on 27 February 2009. It was the largest bank robbery in the Republic of Ireland's history. Criminals engaged in the tiger kidnapping of a junior bank employee, 24-year-old Shane Travers, and forced him to remove €7.6 million in cash from the bank as his girlfriend and two others were held hostage.

2009 Graff Diamonds robbery

The Graff Diamonds robbery took place on 6 August 2009 when two men posing as customers entered the premises of Graff Diamonds in New Bond Street, London and stole jewellery worth nearly £40 million. It was believed to be the largest ever gems heist in Britain at the time, and the second largest British robbery after the £53 million raid on a Securitas depot in Kent in 2006. The thieves' haul totalled 43 items of jewellery, consisting of rings, bracelets, necklaces and wristwatches. One necklace alone has been reported as being worth more than £3.5m. Britain's previous largest jewellery robbery also took place at Graff's, in 2003.

Västberga helicopter robbery Swedish robbery

The Västberga helicopter robbery occurred on 23 September 2009 at 05:15 CET when a G4S cash service depot was robbed in Västberga in southern Stockholm, Sweden. The robbers used a stolen Bell 206 Jet Ranger as transport and landed on the rooftop of the G4S building.

Graff is a British multinational jeweller based in London. It was founded by British jeweller Laurence Graff in 1960. A vertically integrated company, Graff operations comprise the design, manufacture and retail distribution of jewellery and watches.

Brussels Airport diamond heist 2013 diamond heist

On 18 February 2013, eight masked gunmen in two cars with police markings stole approximately US$50,000,000 worth of diamonds from a Swiss-bound Fokker 100 operated by Helvetic Airways on the apron at Brussels Airport, Belgium, just before 20:00 CET. The heist was accomplished without a shot being fired.

Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary 2015 theft from an underground vault in Holborn, London

The Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary occurred in April 2015, when an underground safe deposit facility in Hatton Garden, London, was burgled. According to official sources, the total stolen had an estimated value of up to £14 million, of which only £4.3 million has been recovered. The heist was planned and carried out by six elderly men who were experienced thieves, all of whom were arrested, pleaded guilty and received prison sentences in March 2016. Four other men were also tried on suspicion of involvement; three were found guilty and sent to prison, while the fourth was cleared.

Thomas Fredrik Berglund is a Swedish corporate executive. He was President and Chief Executive Officer of Securitas for 14 years, till April 2007. Berglund has been the deputy Chairman of ISS A/S since 2014, and AcadeMedia since 2017. He was Chairman of Eltel Networks for 4 years till 2012, and was Chairman of Securitas Direct. He was President and Chief Executive Officer of hospital group Capio for 10 years, till 2018.

The City bonds robbery of 1990 was a heist in which £291.9 million was stolen in London, England. The carefully planned operation made it seem at first as if a courier had been mugged on 2 May, yet City of London police soon realised that it was a sophisticated global venture which ended up involving participants such as the New York mafia, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), and Colombian drug barons.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Britain's biggest heist – 10 years on". Kent Online. 21 February 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Ashton, Ben (13 July 2019). "The 'ruthless' Kent gang behind Britain's biggest ever robbery". Kent Live. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Securitas robbery: the investigation". BBC News . 6 March 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2010.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Securitas robbery: how it happened". BBC News . 27 February 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2010.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. Kent & Sussex Courier, 29 June
  6. Sapsted, David (23 February 2006). "£40m stolen in Britain's biggest robbery". The Daily Telegraph . London. Retrieved 1 June 2010. A Bank of England spokesman said last night: "We have already been reimbursed by Securitas for the initial estimate of £25 million…"CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. 1 2 £2m reward for depot raid leads, BBC, 23 February 2006
  8. 1 2 "Third person held over £50m raid". 24 February 2006. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  9. Depot robbers left behind £1.3m, BBC, 26 February 2006
  10. Real Crime Season 9, Episode 6: Britain's Biggest Heist. ITV Studios. 4 October 2010.
  11. Police open fire in hunt for £50m gang, The Daily Telegraph , 27 February 2006
  12. 1 2 Police find the getaway lorry used in £53m raid, The Times
  13. "£7m found in car repair yard raid". BBC . 4 March 2006. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  14. Three in court over £53m robbery, BBC, 2 March 2006
  15. 1 2 "Millions found after depot raid". BBC . 3 March 2006. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  16. Arrest in Morocco over £53m raid, BBC 26 June 2006
  17. Kent Police Press Release [ permanent dead link ], Kent Police, 27 June 2006
  18. Police 'need £6m for heist costs', BBC News, 1 December 2006
  19. 1 2 Weaver, Matthew (29 January 2008). "Securitas: the missing men and their millions". Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 27 August 2015.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. "Trial over £53m cash robbery starts". BBC News . 26 June 2007.
  21. "Manager faces questions over 'coincidences'". Kent and Sussex Courier. 13 July 2007.[ permanent dead link ]
  22. 1 2 "Five found guilty of £53m robbery". BBC News . 28 January 2008.
  23. "Five jailed for £53m cash robbery". BBC News . 28 January 2008.
  24. 1 2 "Three women cleared over £53m heist". Metro . 17 March 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2016.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. 1 2 3 "Cage-fighter jailed over £53m Kent Securitas raid". BBC News . 1 June 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2010.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  26. 1 2 Taylor, Matthew (2 June 2010). "Securitas robbery mastermind Lee Murray jailed in Morocco". The Guardian . Retrieved 23 May 2014.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  27. "Millions still missing 10 years after Tonbridge heist". ITV News . Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  28. Sounes, Howard (2009). Heist : the inside story of the world's biggest robbery. London: Pocket. ISBN   9781847390554.
  29. "Man with links to £53m Securitas heist found shot dead in Canterbury garden". Kent Messenger. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2014.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  30. "Tonbridge Securitas robber fighting for his life after being gunned down in gangland attack". Kent Live. Local World. Retrieved 13 July 2019.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  31. Glendinning, Lee (9 October 2008). "Northern Bank robbery: The crime that nearly ended the Northern Ireland peace process". The Guardian . Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  32. "Rare £1,000,000 Bank of England Treasury note is in sale". Coin World. Retrieved 9 December 2020.