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Masked Men Rob Depot of $1 Million

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Lloyd’s of London and an armored car company posted a $125,000 reward Thursday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of several suspects who committed “one of the largest cash robberies in the history of Los Angeles,” the LAPD announced.

The robbery occurred Saturday at 12:30 a.m., when at least four armed men wearing ski masks pried open a door and entered the Dunbar Armored Inc. depot in the 600 block of Mateo Street, said Los Angeles Police Cmdr. David J. Kalish.

Without firing a shot, the suspects escaped with more than $1 million, police said. Authorities would not disclose exactly how much was taken.

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The loot exceeded the take in a 1995 bank robbery in Newhall, in which robbers took $750,000, and a $430,000 haul from a Tarzana bank in 1992, which was then labeled the largest bank robbery in Los Angeles history.

Whether more recent robberies have exceeded those amounts is difficult to determine because the FBI, which investigates most bank holdups, rarely releases robbery amounts for fear of encouraging the crime. The FBI and the LAPD’s Robbery Homicide Division are investigating Saturday’s heist.

The suspects, armed with handguns and at least one shotgun, roughed up several employees, Kalish said. The employees suffered minor injuries but did not require hospitalization, he said.

Kalish said investigators had not ruled out the possibility that the robbery was an inside job. “No one has been eliminated as a suspect,’ he said.

The biggest cash holdup in U.S. history was an inside job at an armored-car company warehouse in Jacksonville, Fla. On March 29, a Loomis, Fargo & Co. employee named Philip Johnson allegedly pulled a revolver on his partners, handcuffed them and escaped with $20 million.

A $500,000 award was posted for Johnson’s arrest. He was captured five months later by U.S. Customs agents as he crossed into the United States from Mexico.

In the Dunbar robbery, the company put up $25,000 of the reward, while its insurer, Lloyd’s of London, put up $100,000, said Kalish.

“Our message is quite simple,” Kalish said. “The information you provide may make you $125,000 richer.”

Officials at Dunbar declined to comment.

At the single-story depot, money is trucked in from clients, counted and sent out. A mannequin dressed as a security guard stands sentry inside the locked glass front door. The yellow, unmarked building in the rundown industrial district southeast of downtown is the Western regional headquarters for the company.

There have been two armored-car holdups in Los Angeles so far this year and there were two last year, an LAPD spokeswoman said.

FBI spokeswoman Kiara Andrich said she knew of no other incident in Southern California in the last five years in which robbers targeted an armored-car company’s offices.

Police said armored car holdups have been on the rise as bank security has become increasingly sophisticated.


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