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Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Cops stumped in $17m heist Million-dollar reward offered
Police investigating last year’s $17 million heist of cash in transit from a courier say they are stumped for leads and are now seeking to flush out the criminals with a million-dollar reward. The reward, the largest ever offered by Crime Stoppers, has been published in all three daily newspapers over the last few days but has not drawn any useful information, investigators said.
Police believe the military-style strike on the panel van carrying the loot, an accumulation of money intended to replenish all the commercial banks in Tobago, was carried out by highly-trained professionals. The robbery was the largest in T&T’s history. Veteran security guard Supt Bert Clarke, 59, was killed after the security van was rammed from behind by the robbers. The driver managed to escape and was detained by police for several days before being released.
The Ford Ranger used by the bandits to ram the security van was loaded with bags of cement in the rear seat to stabilise it during the collision. Police recovered casings from three types of weapons which were used to fire on the security van, 7.56 mm, 9 mm and shotgun cartridges. According to the advertisement offering the reward, at around 4.30 am on November 28, the Sentinel Security vehicle was heading east along the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, near Trincity Industrial Estate, when it was struck from behind by the Ranger.
Two men emerged from the pick-up truck and opened fire on the panel van, killing Clarke. They escaped in a white Kia Sorento with the cash, which also included US$150,000. Crime Stoppers is offering the reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of the people responsible for the murder and robbery. Anyone with information should call the confidential 24-hour call centre at 800-8477 or submit a tip online at www.crimestopperstt.com.
The advertisement claimed that all calls would be anonymous and those collecting cash have always remained anonymous. When contacted, head of Crime Stoppers Senior Supt Wayne Boyd did not wish to comment. However, investigators said Crime Stoppers, which is an international organisation, makes inquiries into any reports that are made and urges members of the public to contact 800-TIPS if they have information.
Commenting on the development, Larry Nath, president of the Bankers Association, said: “It is unfortunate, as it resulted in a loss of life, and I think it is a tragedy. “Secondly, the association is working with authorities in looking to solve the matter and recover the funds.”
He said banks were now rethinking their strategy on security arrangements. Nath did not comment on the reward.
Insp Mark Maraj is continuing the robbery investigation, while a separate team from the Homicide Bureau is investigating Clarke’s killing.—with reporting by Camille Clarke
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