- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2009

STOCKHOLM | Masked gunmen used a stolen helicopter and explosives to engineer a spectacular raid Wednesday on a cash depot in Stockholm, breaking into the building through the roof and flying off with bags of cash, police and officials said.

The daring predawn heist stunned police, who were unable to deploy their own helicopters to the scene because suspected explosives had been placed at their hangar.

The security company that owns the facility, G4S PLC, said the thieves had made off with “an unconfirmed sum of money” and added it would offer a large reward for information leading to their arrest and the return of the loot. The company did not name an exact amount as the reward.

One person was detained later Wednesday in a Stockholm suburb in connection with the robbery but wasn’t officially declared a suspect, police spokesman Christian Agdur said.

Shortly after 5 a.m., the helicopter swooped down toward the cash depot and hovered over the building as the robbers hoisted themselves onto the roof in what police said was a carefully planned operation.

There were 21 staff members inside the building during the heist, but no one was injured, police said.

Investigators said the robbers wore masks and were thought to have carried automatic weapons and used explosives during the 20-minute raid. Witnesses reported hearing loud bangs during the heist.

Police later found an abandoned helicopter near a lake north of Stockholm, about 15 miles from the cash depot. Police spokeswoman Towe Hagg said the chopper was reported stolen and was thought to be the one used by the robbers.

A bomb squad was examining the suspected explosives left at the police hangar.

Britain-based G4S PLC is one of the world’s largest security companies. The Vastberga facility stores cash that is transported to banks and other businesses in Sweden.

Sweden has seen a series of spectacular robberies in recent years. Last year a group of men broke into a mail processing center in Goteborg, paralyzing large parts of Sweden’s second-largest city after spreading out spikes, burning out cars in different areas and leaving suspected explosive devices in the center.

In 2006, Goteborg’s international airport was partially closed after masked men crashed through a gate and held up luggage handlers as they were unloading crates of foreign currency worth $1.1 million from a passenger aircraft.

Four years earlier, robbers pulled off a similar heist at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, when staff were loading foreign currency onto an aircraft.

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