High-Tech Thieves Rob Berlin Bank Vault

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Danny Ocean, you’ve got competition. Wiley thieves spent months using special machinery to burrow into an underground bank vault in Berlin, making off with more than $15 million in cash and valuables this week.

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The thieves started by renting a small garage unit, where they began tunneling, according to the BBC’s Lucas de Jong (video). Then, over the course of several months, they used special machinery to dig a 100-foot tunnel leading into the safe deposit room of Berliner Volksbank.

All the while, nobody on the surface had any idea what was happening. On Monday, the thieves made their move, taking valuables and cash from more than 100 safe deposit boxes. One estimate in The Mirror said more than $15 million was stolen, but the police are still trying to determine what valuables were in the vault. Then the thieves lit a fire in the tunnel to cover their tracks.

The thieves used special equipment to bore a cloverleaf-shaped entrance through a thick concrete wall and then they painstakingly dug dirt and sand out of the way. The sophisticated tunnel they constructed as they went is three feet wide and even has ceiling supports, the Associated Press reported. German police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf told the press that the raid was “very professional.”

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The police continue to investigate and just released a sketch of a man who’d been seen around the area and showed reporters the tunnel. The police sketch seriously looks like a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character. This even sounds like a Sherlock Holmes case involving burrowing bank thieves. Maybe one will get caught trying to sell a unique carbuncle.

Photo: The thieves’ tunnel in an underground parking garage. Credit: Paul Zinken, Corbis.

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