Thieves tunnel into bank vault and ransack safe deposit boxes

By Calvin Palmer

French police are hunting a gang of thieves who raided the vault of a Paris bank undergoing renovation, by tunneling through from an adjoining cellar.

About 100 safety deposit boxes were ransacked and police say identifying and putting a value on what is missing would be a long process.

The thieves entered the vault of the Le Crédit Lyonnais (LCL) branch on Avenue de l’Opera in the heart of Paris late Saturday night.

They overpowered and tied up a security guard who had heard suspicious noises coming from the basement. The guard was not harmed.

With the aid of sophisticated tools, the gang cut a hole in the wall of the vault just large enough for a person to squeeze through.

The safety deposit boxes of 125 clients were ransacked, LCL said.

As the gang left around 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, they started a fire, which triggered the sprinkler system and partially flooded the crime scene. Investigations could not begin until yesterday morning.

Police said that witnesses saw four or five men leaving the area in a van.

LCL confirmed there had been a robbery, but said the clients’ boxes were operated confidentially and that it therefore had no idea how much money and what kind of valuables might have gone missing.

The raid was similar to one in September last year when a bank in Seine Saint-Denis,a northern suburb of Paris, was targeted and thieves got away with the contents of 117 safe deposit boxes. The bank was also undergoing building work.

[Based on reports by AFP and The Guardian.]

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