4 on the run as gold stolen from ar­mored truck

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By ASSOCIATED PRESS in Paris

French po­lice said they are hunt­ing for four men sus­pected of steal­ing gold dust worth an es­ti­mated $1.6 mil­lion from an ar­mored truck on Mon­day be­fore set­ting cars ablaze near a ma­jor high­way and flee­ing.

The sus­pects, op­er­at­ing in mul­ti­ple cars, sur­rounded the ar­mored truck and forced it off the A6 high­way be­tween Paris and Lyon, a na­tional gen­darme ser­vice spokesman and a ju­di­cial of­fi­cial said.

They then seized the gold, locked the two de­liv­ery men in the back of the truck, and set one of their own cars on fire be­fore flee­ing, ac­cord­ing to the spokesman.

He said the flames spread to three cars nearby and were threat­en­ing to en­gulf the ar­mored truck as well, but lo­cal po­lice in­ter­vened thanks to a tipoff from a wit­ness and res­cued the two men in time. The other cars were un­oc­cu­pied, the ju­di­cial of­fi­cial said.

Po­lice ve­hi­cles and a he­li­copter searched the sur­round­ing fields and forests Mon­day near the south­east­ern town of Dardilly, the spokesman said. The spokesman and ju­di­cial of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to be able to give de­tails about an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Sci­en­tific po­lice stud­ied the charred hulls of the cars and the empty truck, op­er­ated by se­cu­rity com­pany Loomis.

The com­pany said in a state­ment that the cargo was des­tined for in­dus­trial use. The team driv­ing the truck “fully re­spected pro­ce­dures”, the head of Loomis France, Michel Tresch, was quoted as say­ing.

While France oc­ca­sion­ally sees big jewel thefts and has seen a cou­ple of high-pro­file high­way heists, it’s rare to see a large-scale gold rob­bery like this, gen­darmes said.

The ju­di­cial of­fi­cial said about 70 kilo­grams of gold dust were stolen. He said it ap­peared to be an or­ga­nized crime gang, but said the iden­ti­ties of the at­tack­ers are un­clear. He would not re­lease de­tails about who owned the gold dust or where it had been headed.

LAU­RENT CIPRIANI / ASSOCIATED PRESS

A po­lice of­fi­cer in­ves­ti­gates the scene where thieves robbed an ar­mored truck loaded with gold on Mon­day near Lyon, France.

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