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8th Person Charged in Britain Bank Heist

June 28, 2006

LONDON (AP) _ Police on Tuesday charged an eighth person in connection with Britain’s largest cash robbery, whose perpetrators netted $96 million after kidnapping a bank manager and his family.

Garage owner Roger Lloyd Coutts, 29, of south London, was charged with conspiracy to rob and conspiracy to kidnap, Kent police spokesman Dougal Bell said.

A gang of armed robbers bound employees and stole the money on Feb. 22 from Securitas Cash Management Ltd., a Bank of England cash depot in Tonbridge, 30 miles southeast of London. The robbers gained access to the facility by abducting the bank manager, his wife and son while posing as police officers.

The sophisticated robbery is believed to be the largest heist during peacetime. It eclipsed a $70 million theft from the Central Bank in Fortaleza, Brazil in August, a $65 million heist at the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Center in London in 1987, and a $50 million robbery at the Northern Bank of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2004.

But all four were dwarfed by the wartime theft of $900 million in U.S. bills and as much as $100 million worth of euros from the Iraq Central Bank in 2003.

Police have charged five other men and two women with offenses in connection with the theft, including kidnapping, conspiracy to commit robbery and handling stolen goods.

The thieves stopped Securitas manager Colin Dixon, 51, as he drove home from the depot near the Channel Tunnel, police said.

A second group went to Dixon’s home, telling his wife he had been in an accident and taking her away with the couple’s 9-year-old son. The gang threatened the family, but released them unhurt after the raid.

Police have recovered $34.1 million of the stolen money. They did not say if Coutts’ arrest had netted any more.

On Sunday, police arrested British citizen Lee Murray, 26, in Rabat, Morocco, in connection with the robbery. He has not been formally charged. British officials are seeking his extradition.

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