|The Banque de France sign in Paris. - Copyright RANCK FIFE / AFP
Thieves stole nine million euros in cash in France's southeastern city of Lyon in an armed attack on an armoured security vehicle, prosecutors said.
The vehicle, belonging to Swedish cash handling company Loomis, was attacked on Friday at around 9.00 am by several armed individuals as it came out of a branch of the Bank of France.
The Lyon robbery is believed to be France's biggest cash heist since 2009, when Toni Musulin, a former Loomis employee robbed €11.6 million from the Bank of France. Most of the money has been recovered.
No one was injured in Friday's attack.
"The perpetrators managed to immediately flee after committing the act", prosecutors told news agency AFP.
How did it happen?
Local reports said two vans blocked the armoured vehicle, one in front and one behind.
According to two colleagues of the attacked security team, there were repeated issues with the security vehicles' locking system.
The vehicle's security code is supposed to be changed for each run, but this one had a "permanent code" which saved time for the robbers, said the colleagues who did not want to be named in comments to AFP.
"There is clearly a fault on the part of the company," one colleague said, adding the driver of the attacked vehicle was a former shooting instructor trained in "defensive driving".
Loomis chief executive Michel Tresch told the news agency it was "an audacious attack, right in the city centre".
"The most important thing is that the cash escorts are safe and sound."
The company's trade union said the three employees are shocked and would see a psychologist on Monday.
Attacks on Loomis
The company's vehicles have been attacked other times over the years.
In 2017, €35 million worth of goods, including cash and diamonds, were stolen from one of its vehicles in Switzerland.
In 2016, thieves took off with 70 kilos of gold dust worth €2.5 million from the company near Lyon.
But the company's chief executive said in comments to AFP there are fewer physical attacks than in the 2000s.
"It is a lot easier to carry out attacks (on the internet) via hackers, as opposed to attacking an armoured vehicle," Tresch said.
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