Gunmen abduct van driver, guard

about $400,000 stolen

January 17, 2001|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

A driver and a guard for an armored courier service became carjacking victims yesterday as robbers abducted them in their van - loaded with cash - at gunpoint from the parking lot of a convenience store in Anne Arundel County, authorities said.

A guard and driver for Loomis Fargo & Co. were tied up and driven from Riviera Beach to Baltimore, where the robbers transferred the money into a vehicle and abandoned the van at Curtis Avenue and Birch Street in an industrial area of Curtis Bay.

The robbers, thought to be two men and a woman, might have gotten away with as much as $400,000, police sources said.

A spokesman for the FBI, which is leading the investigation, would not confirm the amount of cash taken. Special Agent Peter A. Gulotta Jr., spokesman for the Baltimore regional FBI office, said it was a "significant amount."

The armored car company employees were not hurt. They freed themselves after the robbers got away and told two Baltimore police officers on foot patrol in Curtis Bay what had happened, authorities said.

The robbery occurred about noon, after one of the employees had finished refilling an automated teller machine at the Royal Farm Store at Fort Smallwood Road and Riviera Drive in Riviera Beach.

The guard was getting into the van when he was confronted by two gunmen, county police said.

Initially, police reported that two robbers were involved. Later, Gulotta said FBI agents thought two men and a woman robbed the van. Gulotta said that they might have worn uniforms but that he could not provide a better description. Few details were divulged.

"We've got agents at both locations," he said. "They are still out interviewing potential witnesses and collecting information."

Unlike bank robberies, armored vehicle robberies are relatively rare, Gulotta said.

"Few banks have armed guards," he said. "Armored car robberies are more dangerous, including from the robbers' point of view. ... They tend to [be] more planned than the average bank robbery." Robberies of armored vehicles also tend to involve larger sums. Gulotta said that the average amount of cash taken during a bank robbery is about $2,500 and that large sums are stolen in relatively few holdups.

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