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Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 14:17 UK

Paris robbers dig their way into bank

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A look inside the route that the robbers used to reach the bank vault

A gang of robbers have dug their way into the vault of a Parisian bank and emptied almost 200 private safes, police said.

They entered the Credit Lyonnais branch near the opera house using building equipment to burn a hole and shatter walls on Saturday night, reports say.

They tied up a security guard and spent the next nine hours robbing the bank before setting it on fire as they left.

The value of the stolen goods is still being estimated, police said.

One investigator described the heist at the Avenue de l'Opera branch as a "professional job", French radio reported.

The robbers came in at about 2200 on Saturday and left at 0700 on Sunday, reports say.

They entered through the cellars of the neighbouring building, at one stage burning a hole into a wall 80cm (31in) thick, to get into the bank which was undergoing building works at the time.

Spaggiari similarities

When they left, they set the place on fire to remove any trace of evidence, triggering the anti-fire system and flooding the building. The guard escaped unharmed, reports say.

Police were given access to the building once it had been secured on Monday.

It may be difficult to estimate the total value of what was stolen as only the bank's clients will have known the content of their private safes, reports said.

The heist has been compared to the Spaggiari Affair, dubbed the heist of the century, masterminded by Albert Spaggiari in Nice more than 30 years ago.

Spaggiari and his gang spent two days and three nights digging into the vault of a Societe Generale branch, stealing 50m francs.



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