Latvian Andrejs Peregudovs and two Romanians suspected of involvement in an automated teller machine (ATM) heist of more than NT$83 million (US$2.6 million) earlier this month were arrested in Yilan County and Taipei yesterday, police said.
Peregudovs was wanted by authorities as a key suspect in a criminal ring of more than 10 members that allegedly stole NT$83.27 million from 41 First Commercial Bank (第一銀行) ATMs in Taipei and Taichung on July 9 and July 10.
Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) officials yesterday raided the Grand Victoria Hotel (維多麗亞酒店) in Taipei’s Dazhi (大直)area where the two Romanian suspects were staying and found three suitcases containing bundles of cash that police believe could be connected to the heist.
As of press time last night, police had counted about NT$45 million in banknotes.
Taipei City Police officials said they also took a Taiwanese woman into custody, reportedly Peregudovs’ girlfriend, who is a suspected accomplice to the crime.
Police said she might have helped the Latvian and the two Romanian suspects book hotel rooms and hide.
CIB investigators said they had the two Romanian suspects under surveillance for a few days, and only moved in after the key suspect, Peregudovs, was arrested in Yilan yesterday at about 4:30pm.
Peregudovs was yesterday evening transferred to Taipei for questioning by a police task force established for the case, after Yilan police searched a bed-and-breakfast where he was staying.
Officials credited an observant off-duty Taipei police officer heading to his family home in Yilan County for spotting a man resembling Peregudovs having lunch at a restaurant in Yilan’s Dongao (東澳) earlier yesterday.
The off-duty officer called local police and followed Peregudovs as the suspect rode off on a bicycle wearing a backpack after finishing lunch.
Yilan police tracked him down on the Suao-Hualien Highway and took him into custody.
The man at first refused to give his identity and said he had nothing to do with the ATM heist, police said.
However, using fingerprints, photographs and other evidence, police were able to identify Peregudovs and began preliminary questioning regarding his suspected involvement in the case.
Additional reporting by CNA
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