Deaf men charged in 83M won heist

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Deaf men charged in 83M won heist

Three deaf men are facing charges of robbing a KT&G van loaded with some 83 million won ($71,961), then living it up in hiding.

Two suspects surnamed Moon, 44, and Kim, 40, were detained on Tuesday, and the Yongin Police Precinct in Gyeonggi is seeking a warrant to detain Ku, 46,

According to police, Moon and Ku used a rental car to block a van owned by Korea’s largest tobacco and ginseng maker at around 10:45 a.m. on Feb. 23, in the Cheoin district in Yongin. The van was carrying 70 million won in cash and 13 million in checks.

While Moon and Ku blocked the roadway, police said Ku opened the van’s back door and stole the money.

All three then jumped on a motorcycle Kim had stashed some 10 meters (32 feet) away and fled from the scene, police said.

Police tracked the suspects through the rental car’s plate number, and arrested Moon and Kim on Friday and Ku on Saturday.

So far, investigators said they have retrieved only 11.7 million won in cash from the suspects. Police said the three split the loot and spent lavishly on daily expenses and debauchery; they are still investigating whether any of the stolen money has been stashed elsewhere.

According to the Yongin precinct, the three men first hatched the robbery plot at the Seoul National School for the Deaf in central Seoul last August.

Police said Moon knew the route of the KT&G branch’s van, though they did not elaborate on how he had obtained that information. The three allegedly cased the route, identified a spot at which to pull over the van, and rehearsed the robbery.

And police said it wasn’t their first attempt.

“The suspects also allegedly tried to steal about 110 million won in cash from a KT&G Uijeongbu branch van in Gyeonggi at around 9 a.m. last Dec. 17,” said an officer who requested anonymity. “But their motorbike slipped on an icy road and they fled leaving the money bag on the ground.

“They later tried the same thing in Pyeongtaek [in Gyeonggi] without success.”

Police are also probing whether the three snatched a money bag loaded with 97 million won in cash from the hands of security officers in front of the Seoul Express Bus Terminal in southern Seoul on Jan. 22.

Both investigations are continuing.

By Chung Young-jin []
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