Fri, May 25, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Police detain ‘raincoat robber’ suspect at airport

LOCAL LEGEND:Police have been hunting for a man who carried out six armored car thefts in 10 years, always in raingear and escaping on a stolen motorcycle

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

A man suspected of being the “raincoat robber,” surnamed Wang, is escorted by police officers after being arrested at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday morning.

Photo: Yao Kai-shiou, Taipei Times

A man suspected of being the infamous “raincoat robber” was detained by police while attempting to catch a flight to leave the country, law enforcement authorities said yesterday.

Police said the suspect was surnamed Wang (王) and that they would use a stash of money and a gun that were traced back to him to see if any of the items could be linked to any of the robberies.

Over the past 15 years, nine armored truck robberies have been reported in Taipei, police said, seven of which remained unresolved. In six cases, the robbery occurred on a rainy day and the perpetrator was wearing a raincoat or poncho, thus earning the sobriquet “raincoat robber” among Taipei police officers.

In March, an armored truck from Taiwan Business Bank (臺灣企銀) on Nanjing E Road was robbed by a suspect who used the same modus operandi as the raincoat robber, leading investigators to suspect that the same man was once again in action after a two-year absence.

Police said the raincoat robber favored rainy days, when it would not seem out of place to be wearing raingear that would help conceal his identity, while the way the robber held his gun led investigators to believe that he had either military or police training. The robber was also not hesitant about shooting.

However, police said Wang did not have a police or military background.

The raincoat robber also favored Nanjing E Road, where several banks are located, with five armored trucks targeted on that road, including the robbery in March, police said.

They said the robber also apparently scouted out the locations in advance, because he appeared to know where the nearest surveillance cameras were, making it almost impossible to for him to be identified through video footage.

The raincoat robber was evidently very familiar with the Songshan (松山) and Zhongshan (中山) districts of Taipei, often using stolen scooters as the means of transport and escaping through one-way alleys, they said.

The Taipei City Police Department recently completed the installation of a high-definition street surveillance camera system to monitor criminal activity, officials said, adding that the department was still analyzing footage that might be related to the raincoat robber.

Meanwhile, police said they were not ruling out the possibility that there had been copycat robberies, given the decade or so over which the robberies were committed. If it was just one man carrying out the thefts attributed to the raincoat robber, they said his reflexes and physical state were unlikely to be what they were a decade ago.

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