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Wells Fargo Tightening Security After Robbery

April 30, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ Wells Fargo, whose armored courier service has suffered three multimillion- do llar robberies in the last three years including one this week, is tightening security around the nation, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Wells Fargo and the FBI also announced details of reward offers totaling $350,000 for information about the theft of about $8 million early Monday from a company depot in lower Manhattan.

A team of city and federal investigators followed up clues in their search for the four men who broke into the unguarded depot, ambushed four employees after they arrived for work, and drove off with the money in a Wells Fargo van.

Wells Fargo ″is involved in a security strengthening program right now,″ said Barbara Ross, assistant director of communications for Baker Industries of Parsippany, N.J., which owns Wells Fargo.

But she declined to provide specifics of the program, saying ″We can’t tell the (criminal) out on the street what we’re doing.″

For the same reason, she said, neither Baker officials nor those of Wells Fargo could discuss specifics of Monday’s robbery, such as why the depot was unguarded when the robbers broke in and why a guard turret in the garage was unused.

Larry Babb, Wells Fargo’s spokesman at its Atlanta headquarters, said he was told Monday by Baker president Malcolm F. Baker ″not to say anthing at all″ about the case.

Baker Industries owns several Wells Fargo protection services as well as Burns International Security Services. Baker, in turn, is owned by Borg Warner Corp. of Chicago.

The New York Post quoted unidentified employees of Wells Fargo’s Manhattan depot as saying the bulletproof guard’s turret was installed earlier this year at a cost of more than $100,000, but was never used.

The employees said the turret was not used and the depot was unguarded on Sunday nights because the company wanted to save money. Ms. Ross declined comment.

″It was too easy for (a robbery) to happen,″ one worker told the Post. ″Everybody here was saying it was only a matter of time.″

FBI spokesman Joseph Valiquette said Wells Fargo’s reward offer had two parts: $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the robbers, and $250,000 for the return of the money.

The stolen money was insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. because it was destined for the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, Valiquette said.

The most recent previous multimillion-dollar loss for Wells Fargo was on Thanksgiving Day 1983, when $6.4 million was stolen from a terminal in Memphis, Tenn.

On Sept. 12, 1983, a robber drugged and tied two employees of the company’s office in Hartford, Conn., and stole $7 million. Authorities have sought Victor M. Gerena, 26, a Wells Fargo guard, as the thief. A $10 bill that was part of the loot has been connected with a Puerto Rican terrorist group.

On Dec. 19, 1978, a Wells Fargo armored truck was held up on Staten Island and robbed of $2.25 million. A year and a half later, Joseph ″Pepe″ Marino was sentenced to 271/2 years in prison. He was the only member of the stickup team captured.

In 1983, $11 million was taken from the Sentry Armored Car Courier Co. in the Bronx.