Page last updated at 22:05 GMT, Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Family abducted before 25m raid

A police van at the Securitas depot
The security manager's ordeal lasted about eight hours

More than 25m in cash has been stolen from a depot in Kent after its security manager and his family were kidnapped by armed robbers posing as police.

The raid was carried out in the early hours of Wednesday at Securitas, in Vale Road, Tonbridge, by at least six men who tied up 15 staff members.

The manager was abducted after being pulled over in his car by what he thought was an unmarked police vehicle.

The Bank of England confirmed the scale of the raid - one of Europe's biggest.

A Securitas spokesman said "a substantial amount of money running into millions of pounds" had been taken.

This was clearly a robbery that was planned in detail over time
Det Supt Paul Gladstone

He said the exact figure would only be known once a complete audit of the site had been carried out.

The kidnapping of the manager took place at about 1830 GMT on Tuesday.

He was in his silver Nissan Almera on the northbound carriageway of the A249, just past the Three Squirrels public house near Stockbury, when he was pulled over by what he believed was a police vehicle.

He was spoken to by a passenger wearing a high visibility jacket and a police-style hat.

Thinking they were genuine police officers, he got into the kidnappers' vehicle where he was handcuffed.

At the same time, the man's wife and young son were taken from their home in Herne Bay after two men claiming to be police officers said he had been involved in an accident.

December 2004 - 26.4m stolen from Northern Bank headquarters in Belfast
February 2002 - Thieves take $6.5m (3.4m) from a British Airways van at Heathrow Airport
November 1983 - 26m in gold bullion and diamonds stolen from the Brinks-Mat high security vault, also at Heathrow
1963 - Armed robbers steal 2.6m in the Great Train Robbery

The depot manager was transferred to a white van, tied up at gunpoint, and then driven to another location where he was told to co-operate or his family would be in danger.

At about 0100 GMT on Wednesday, he was taken by car to the Securitas depot and the raid was carried out.

The balaclava-clad robbers, some of whom had handguns, left at about 0215 GMT.

The staff who had been tied up managed to raise the alarm about an hour later - police officers found them with the manager and his family.

They were all shocked but unhurt and police said they were now recovering from the ordeal.

Securitas spokesman Tony Benson said: "Members of our staff have had inflicted on them the most terrible and traumatic experience.

"The fact that no-one has been physically injured should not mask the brutality of this crime and we are all committed to working with the police to catch those responsible and see justice brought to bear."

Map of the area
1: Security depot manager abducted near Stockbury
2: The man's wife and young son are taken from their home in the Herne Bay area
3: Armed and masked robbers raid the depot in Tonbridge

Det Supt Paul Gladstone said: "This was a traumatic ordeal for the manager and his family and for all of the staff.

"This was clearly a robbery that was planned in detail over time.

"A very substantial sum of money running into millions of pounds has been stolen and we are determined to bring the robbers to justice."

Police are appealing for information from anyone who may have seen the manager's silver Nissan, or a Volvo or similar vehicle meeting up with a white van.

They also want to trace a 7.5 tonne truck which was used in the robbery itself.

In December 2004 a 26.4m raid at the Northern Bank's Belfast headquarters became the biggest cash heist in UK history.

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