February 14, 2017 / 9:51 PM / 3 years ago

Albanian police catch four suspects in van robbery

TIRANA (Reuters) - Albanian police arrested on Tuesday four people suspected of involvement in the theft of $3.2 million during a cash transport near the main airport last Thursday and have recovered an undisclosed amount of money.

It was the third such robbery from a delivery van in two years in Albania. Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri blamed poorly paid security men who he said “could not be heroes”. Two more people involved in the heist are thought to be on the run.

The Albanian Association of Banks said it regretted it had been hit again in a territory between the capital and the airport that should have been a “model of security” and that it had been asking for seven months for security to be beefed up for such money transports.

Tirana’s police chief Ervin Hodaj said the same six people had shot at and robbed another bank money delivery van in December 2015 very close to the same spot on the way to the international airport.

“We have fully proved how they committed the robbery and the role of the suspects in these two robberies, including how they got the information on the van’s itinerary, their helpers and who shot at the vans,” Hodaj told reporters.

One 33-year-old member of the group had worked for the security company which he helped rob first. Two others were army commandoes who served in Afghanistan as part of Albania’s contribution to NATO’s operations there.

Hodaj said police had seized “considerable amounts of hard currency”, including British pounds, U.S. dollars, Canadian and Australian dollars as well as euros and Albanian leke, corresponding to the money the bank had been transferring.

Reporting By Benet Koleka; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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