Robbers tunneled 100 feet underground and through three feet thick concrete walls to break into a bank’s vault, stealing money and valuables estimated to be worth more than €10 million (£8.3 million, $13 million).
Police were left stumped when they discovered the giant hole cut through the wall with what appeared to be four cylindrical devices at the Volksbank in the western Steglitz district of Berlin, Germany.
It is believed the thieves began tunnelling weeks ago, starting from a nearby lock-up garage rented under a false name which they used to gain access to the strongroom.
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Robbers tunnelled 100ft from a car garage into a bank in Berlin to steal money and valuables
The ‘professionally dug’ tunnel was only discovered after the gang set the tunnel alight, destroying DNA evidence and fingerprints on wood and tools they used to break in.
The tunnel was nearly 4.5 feet high and 3 feet wide and was supported with wooden shoring to prevent it collapsing.
Around 100 safety deposit boxes were raided in the vaults and local media reported that panicked customers besieged the Volksbank’s main switchboard to try to learn the fate of their cash, gems and other treasures they assumed were safe in lockers protected by three feet of concrete.
Police have since released a sketch of one of the possible culprits, among the raiders who used silenced pneumatic drills to break into the vault.
Police believe that the robbers may have spent weeks digging the tunnel after renting the garage under a false name and removing rubble and their spoils under the cover of darkness.
Police believe that the robbers may have taken weeks to create the tunnel and that it began in a nearby lock-up garage, rented under a false name
The tunnel, nearly 4.5ft high and 3ft wide, was supported by wooden shoring to prevent it collapsing. Police believe the perpetrators removed rubble and their spoils at night
It is believed that the robbers made their heist after close of business last Friday afternoon. The tunnel was not discovered until 6am on Monday morning when the robbers set fire to the impressive tunnel which breached one of the bank’s walls. The robbers then simply used crowbars to smash open the safety deposit boxes.
The garage had been rented since February 2012, it was reported in German newspaper Die Welt.
Police remain unsure how many people were involved in the heist but are investigating the possibility that the organizers hired professionals to cut through the walls.
The tunnel was only discovered after the robbers set the tunnel on fire, destroying DNA evidence and fingerprints on wood and tools
It is thought the robbers used silenced pneumatic drills to break into the vault after tunnelling through a bank wall, gaining access to safety deposit boxes
Police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said: ‘It was professionally dug. It must have taken some while to complete it.’
Witnesses reported seeing construction workers near the garage and it is thought the robbers may have disguised themselves this way.
The parking space was room enough for three cars allowing enough room to store earth dug during the tunnel building process. The space was also separated from the rest of the garage in the multi-storey carpark with a roller door.