3 arrested in heist of 530M won from van

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3 arrested in heist of 530M won from van

After a four-day nationwide manhunt, three men suspected of stealing 530 million won ($472,000) from an armored van in Gumi, North Gyeongsang, were arrested by police on Monday. The three suspects, all 28 years old, had been classmates in middle school.

Authorities said one of the suspects, surnamed Kim, is an employee of the security service company that was robbed.

A suspect surnamed Lee, who is believed to have been the mastermind of the heist, had worked for a security service company in Daegu until six months ago, according to investigators.

Kim provided information to Lee concerning the delivery system of his company and the password to a safe, police said, while another suspect Gwak, who is unemployed, stood guard outside the van.

At the time of the theft, the van had been parked at a college campus in Gumi about 1:30 on Dec. 31, police said. The three security guards were having lunch.

Police put Lee on a nationwide wanted list after identifying him from video footage taken from the van and from a video file of Lee from his previous job. Lee was found hiding near his girlfriend’s house in Pohang, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Gumi.

Police said they retrieved 50 million won that Lee was carrying at the time.

Another 450 million won, which was being kept at Gwak’s house, was also retrieved, police said. The suspects told police they had used the rest of the money on drinking and entertaining.

“The three friends seem to have plotted to rob the van to get out of financial difficulty,” police said. According to the investigation, the three had around 10 million won in debt from a private loan.

Police determined that the suspects planned the crime for several months. The suspects visited the site to rehearse the heist several times. The suspects chose Friday for the robbery, knowing that Fridays are the day that armored vans make the most rounds.

By Hong Gweon-sam [enational@joongang.co.kr]
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