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Last Updated: Monday, 28 January 2008, 13:13 GMT
The role of the 'inside man'
By Chris Summers
BBC News

Five men have been convicted over the Securitas cash depot robbery. The trial heard that one of the five was the "inside man". So how can banks and cash depots combat the temptation for their employees to sell inside information to robbers?

Ermir Hysenaj
Ermir Hysenaj was working for 5.50 an hour

Detectives know from experience there will always be an "inside man" in a big armed robbery.

"On all the big jobs there will always be someone 'opening doors'," says John O'Connor, former head of the Flying Squad.

"When there isn't one it usually becomes a complete disaster, like the Millennium Dome robbery, which was just a glorified ram-raid.

"Sometimes, people (who work in a bank or cash depot) start fantasising about what it would be like, and then they start talking and soon they come to the attention of a gang, and before they know it they are in on it and they can't back out because they're frightened of them.

1975: 8m stolen from Bank of America branch in London's Mayfair. Stuart Buckley, an electrician who gave the robbers codes to the vaults, was later jailed for seven years.
1983: 26m in gold stolen from Brinks Mat warehouse at Heathrow. Security guard Anthony Black, who gave evidence against the robbers, was jailed for six years.
Sep 1997: $18.9m stolen from Dunbar Armored depot in Los Angeles. The company's regional safety inspector Allen Pace was later jailed for 24 years.
Oct 1997: $17.3m robbery of Loomis Fargo depot in Charlotte, North Carolina. Vault supervisor David Scott Ghantt was later jailed for seven years.

"It's rare for an inside man to come out and look for a team. Usually it's the other way round. A team of robbers will learn about someone who works in a bank or a depot."

The temptation when dealing with millions of pounds in cash is obvious, and the irony is that most people working in such depots are on very low wages.

Ermir Hysenaj, the inside man in the Securitas robbery, told the court he was being paid 5.50 an hour, and said his employers would even deduct his lunch hour.

Mr O'Connor says: "The profit margins in the security industry are very narrow. It is very competitive and these firms are not going to pay much above the minimum wage."

Hysenaj was an illegal immigrant who had been deported back to Albania, only to be allowed back into the country by the Home Office on a two-year visa because he had married an Englishwoman.

He told the court he had signed up with a Kent recruitment agency, Beacon, and in December 2005 - only two months before the robbery - they sent him for an interview at the Securitas depot in Tonbridge.

Ten-minute interview

Hysenaj told the court he handed in his CV, had a 10-minute interview and was offered a job at the depot.

He was soon working in the cash deposit processing (CDP) area, sorting money and handling tens of thousands of pounds every day. Police said the robbers equipped him with a hidden camera fitted in a belt, which he used to film the inside of the depot.

Mr O'Connor says he is amazed by the ease with which Hysenaj secured the job, adding: "The vetting in this case seems non-existent."

He says the inside man is often the gang's Achilles heel, as was the case in the 1983 Brinks Mat robbery.

Hysenaj caught on CCTV inside the depot
Hysenaj (right) is shown filming using a miniature camera in his belt

Once detectives realised that Brinks Mat security guard Anthony Black was the brother-in-law of veteran south London robber Brian Robinson, they brought him in for questioning.

He soon cracked and confessed, giving them key information about Robinson and other members of the gang.

But after the Securitas robbery, Hysenaj was not the first person to be arrested, and it was some time before Kent Police made the link between him and one of the robbers, Jetmir Bucpapa. It was only then that he was arrested.

During his police interviews, Hysenaj said he only knew Bucpapa because they were both Albanian and he had occasionally bought cannabis from him.

Most good companies in the sector will now insist on proper vetting procedures, which means five years of residency, 10 years of employment and a full criminal records check
James Lewry
Control Risks

James Lewry, a senior consultant with Control Risks, says the low level of vetting Hysenaj underwent was "not uncommon" in the past, but he adds: "Since the Tonbridge raid the industry has moved on massively.

"Most good companies in the sector will now insist on proper vetting procedures, which means five years of residency, 10 years of employment and a full criminal records check."

Private companies are not allowed to check someone's criminal records with police in England or Wales. But Mr Lewry says: "People often think you can't check someone's criminal record, but there is a back-door method. You can go through the Scottish police and they even have records from England."

'False economy'

He says it is a "false economy" not to carry out proper vetting, and points out that insurance premiums inevitably rise in the event of a robbery.

But he says the inside man can sometimes turn out to be someone who has worked at a company for many years and is deeply trusted.

He says there is no foolproof way of stamping it out, but he adds: "Good companies will have good personnel policies with pleasant working environments, upward progression and promotion opportunities for staff."

Hand-drawn plan of the depot (from Kent Police)
Hysenaj denied having drawn up this plan of the depot

At the Old Bailey trial, there were suggestions by some defence lawyers that the inside man was in fact Colin Dixon, the depot manager who was abducted along with his wife and child.

The court heard that one of the officers who looked after Mr Dixon in the wake of the robbery had harboured suspicions about him and had e-mailed her boss.

Victim liaison officer Pc Lorraine Brown said she believed he was intentionally deceiving the police over a camera and photographs of the inside of the high-security depot that were found in his desk.

'Never a suspect'

Under cross-examination by Bucpapa's lawyer, Charles Conway, she admitted she had suspected him of lying at the time.

Detective Chief Inspector Mick Judge, who led the inquiry, later insisted "Colin Dixon had never been a suspect".

But Mr Dixon, while giving evidence, acknowledged he had been the "prime candidate" to be the inside man because of his extensive knowledge of the depot.

Graham Huckerby and Luci Roper
Graham has had no help since coming out of prison, he lives in someone's back room and will probably never get a job - this whole thing has destroyed his life
Luci Roper

Graham Huckerby also knows what it is like to be wrongly suspected of being the inside man.

The former policeman was driving a Securicor van on 3 July 1995 when it was ambushed by armed robbers near the Midland Bank clearing centre in Salford, Greater Manchester.

The gang got away with 29 cash bags containing 6.6m, making it the biggest cash-in-transit robbery in British history.


None of the robbers were ever caught, but four years after the raid, Greater Manchester Police decided Mr Huckerby's actions on the day had been suspicious, and in 2002 he was convicted of conspiracy to rob and jailed for 14 years.

Mr Huckerby's girlfriend, Luci Roper, fought a long campaign to clear his name, and in December 2004 three Court of Appeal judges quashed his conviction, saying: "We are not satisfied as to the safety of the conviction."

The Court of Appeal heard that Mr Huckerby - who had been the victim of a robbery seven months before - was suffering from "post-traumatic stress disorder" at the time of the robbery, which was why he did what the robbers told him when they pointed a gun at him instead of following company policy.

Ms Roper, who has since split up with Mr Huckerby but remains in touch with him, said: "He has been refused compensation despite being wrongfully convicted, which makes you sick when you consider that I sold my house to pay his legal fees.

"Graham has had no help since coming out of prison. He lives in someone's back room and will probably never get a job. This whole thing has destroyed his life."


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