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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Thieves stage first euro robbery
Armoured delivery van
Billions of euros are being delivered across Europe
Thieves in Germany have carried out what is believed to be the first robbery involving euros.

Police say the raiders got away with 1.2m euros ($1.08m) and 300,00 Deutschmarks ($139,000) after holding up a security van in the central German town of Giessen.

One of the van's two drivers is thought to have been involved in the crime.

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 12 eurozone countries.

The final euro designs were only revealed last week because of concerns counterfeiters would try to copy the new currency, which is due to be introduced on 1 January, 2002.

Securicor marketing director Jan Hendrik Pietsch told Reuters news agency the 35-year-old driver and an accomplice tied up the van's co-driver before making off with the haul.

Wide range of notes

Investigators said all seven kinds of denominations, from five to 500 euros, were on the van.

euro note
The euro remains unpopular in Germany
"One has to expect that all types of bills fell into their hands," Reinhard Huebner, a spokesman for Giessen prosecutors, told Associated Press news agency.

Police say they are still searching for the two robbers, who loaded the haul into a getaway car.

Cash transport companies in Germany 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.

Police at first said the robbers had left the euros behind, choosing to take only the Deutschmarks.

Opinion polls in Germany consistently suggest a majority of citizens would rather keep their Deutschmarks than convert to the new currency.

See also:

24 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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