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Gunmen steal 'millions' in Swiss cash van heist

February 10, 2018

Police are hunting for three men who held up an armored van near the French-Swiss border and made off with millions in cash. The suspects reportedly demanded ransom after kidnapping the daughter of a security guard.

A police car in France
Image: picture-alliance/NurPhoto/J. Mattia

Police in western Switzerland appealed for witnesses on Friday after armed robbers clad in black clothing and balaclavas escaped with up to €26 million ($31.8 million).  

"The thieves fled to an unknown destination," police in the Swiss canton of Vaud said in a statement.

The drama began late Thursday, when the assailants, posing as plumbers, kidnapped the daughter of a security guard from her apartment in the southeastern French city of Lyon, investigators said.

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The 22-year-old told police she was tied up, bundled into a car, and forced to phone her father, who transports money in armored vehicles for a Swiss security company.

Police said the father was en route to Lausanne to make a delivery with a colleague when the call came through, and he agreed to meet the kidnappers in a car park on the Swiss side of the border.

"There, several armed men who were awaiting the van made him park it. They…completely emptied the van's contents and fled in a dark-colored Porsche SUV," Swiss police said in a statement, without specifying how much money was stolen.

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Police sources quoted by news agencies said the van was carrying "between 20 and 30 million Swiss francs (€17-26 million, $21-32 million)."

No one was injured during the heist. Investigators said the security guard's daughter was later found on the side of a road north of Lyon.

Police said they had launched a criminal probe into the robbery and were searching for three men with accented French.

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nm/bw (Reuters, AFP, dpa)