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Last Updated: Monday, 8 August, 2005, 21:17 GMT 22:17 UK
'Record' bank robbery in Brazil
House used by bank robbers in Fortaleza
The gang worked from a suburban house opposite the bank
Thieves in Brazil have stolen up to $65m (36m) after tunnelling into a bank in what police say could be the country's biggest bank heist.

The thieves dug a 200m (656ft) tunnel into the bank from a nearby house in the northern city of Fortaleza.

Neighbours said between six and 10 men worked at the house, rented in the name of a company making artificial turf.

The theft happened over the weekend, but was not discovered until Monday morning because the bank was closed.

Neighbours reported seeing vanloads of material being removed each day.

Tunnel used by Brazil bank robbers
It took three months to dig the tunnel
"It's something you see in the movies... They dug a tunnel that goes underneath two [city] blocks. They've been digging for three months," investigator Francisco Queiroga told the Reuters news agency.

The Banco Central said the robbers opened five containers with 50 real ($22) bills.

The value of the stolen bank notes has not been determined. However, police sources said the heist may have yielded as much as 150m reals, which would make it the biggest bank robbery in Brazil's history.

Country profile: Brazil
28 May 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Brazil
14 Jul 05 |  Country profiles


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