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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 21:18 GMT 22:18 UK
Robbers say no to euros
Armoured delivery van
Billions of euros are being delivered across Europe
By Europe business correspondent Patrick Bartlett in Frankfurt

Robbers in Germany who stole millions of marks from a cash transport van on Thursday left bundles of brand new euro notes untouched.

The heist, which took place near the central German town of Giessen in the state of Hesse, is thought to be the first time a van carrying euros has been attacked.

It seems even the criminal fraternity shares this suspicion of the new European currency

The money was being delivered as part of a massive operation which began this week to supply around 600bn euros to banks and shops across the 12eurozone countries.

The currency changeover is due to take place on 1 January 2002.

The robbers made off with around 2.5m worth of Deutschmarks, but, according to a police spokesman, not a single euro was taken.

That will be a huge relief to the authorities, whose biggest fear has been that counterfeiters will get their hands on the euro notes before they come into circulation.

Driver suspected

It is possible the robbers left the euros because they knew the currency would not be legal tender until the beginning of next year.

Nonetheless, the cash transport industry fears an increase in attacks in the run-up to the euro changeover.

euro note
The euro remains unpopular in Germany
In contrast to some countries, in Germany there will be no army escort for the cash shipments and police cover will be provided only for the biggest deliveries.

Worryingly, it appears the driver of the ambushed van was an accomplice in the robbery.

He and another man tied up the co-driver before escaping with the money.

Cash transport companies here have had to recruit up to 20% more staff to deal with the increased workload and the industry admits checks on their backgrounds may not always be as thorough as they should be.

Opinion polls in Germany consistently suggest a majority of citizens would rather keep their Deutschmarks.

Now it seems even the criminal fraternity shares this suspicion of the new European currency.

See also:

07 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Arguing the toss over the euro
05 Sep 01 | Business
Euro forgery fears
03 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair's euro chances talked up
13 Apr 01 | Europe
The euro non-revolution
09 Feb 01 | Europe
Europeans divided on their union
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