Fri, Mar 15, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Bank robbery nets thieves NT$2.35 million

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Two men, one wearing a surgical mask and both wearing baseball hats and armed with pistols stole NT$2.35 million from the Chunghsiao branch of the Chinatrust Commercial Bank (中國信託商銀) in Taipei yesterday.

Police said two robbers come up behind branch manager Wu Kuo-yu (吳國裕) and clerk Lin Hsiao-hua (林曉華) at around 7:45am as the pair were about to open the doors of the bank.

The robbers pointed their guns at Wu and Lin's heads and ordered them to open the doors.

Wu told police that after about seven minutes the thieves fled on foot in the direction of Ta-an Road.

One of the thieves had long hair and the other had short hair and wore a gauze, a surgical-style mask, Wu said.

"This is the first time I have had a pistol pointed at my head," said Wu. "They did not hurt us. But both of us were scared to death. Before they left, they locked Lin and I in the restroom."

The incident was recorded by the bank's closed-circuit television system.

Police have established from the video footage that the thieves had waited in front of the bank for about 45 minutes before Wu and Lin arrived.

Wu said that Chinatrust, unlike some banks, does not operate a roster with staggered arrival times for staff for security purposes, but it does ask staff to vary the times they arrive and the routes they take to work every day.

Staff are expected to be on the premises by 9am, the start of the working day.

Chen Kuen-te (陳昆德), manager of the bank's credit-card department, said that the bank's security guards usually arrive at 8am.

The bank is offering NT$2 million for information leading to an arrest.

Police believe that the robbery was planned by people with an intimate knowledge of the bank's procedures.

"From our initial enquiries and the evidence we have collected so far, we believe that the two thieves did their homework thoroughly before committing the robbery," said Lee Wen-chang (李文章), chief of the Criminal Investigation Section of the Taipei Police Headquarters' Ta-an Precinct.

"They knew that there wouldn't be many employees at the bank during that period and that the security guards wouldn't be there until 8am. They knew it was the best time to commit the crime," Lee said.

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