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Crime Inc: BRINKS BANDITS HOLD UP FIVE VANS; Armed gangsters grab over pounds 200,000 Police say they fear for public safety.

Byline: BRENDAN McGINTY

A VICIOUS armed gang who specialise in raids on Brinks security vans have been linked to a FIFTH hold-up in Scotland, it was revealed yesterday.

Their latest attack in Motherwell left a security guard injured and took their haul to pounds 200,000 since December.

The gang of three men wear boiler suits, balaclavas and carry a shotgun. They target Brinks guards as they deliver cash to busy high street banks, then make their getaway by car.

And they are not afraid to use violence -in their first raid, they doused a guard with petrol and threatened to set him alight.

Police sources say there is little doubt the same gang carried out all five attacks.

Attack No 1 -Brinks van hit at Bank of Scotland in Uddingston, Lanarkshire. Guard doused in petrol, cash taken unknown.

Attack No 2 -Van hit at the Abbey National, Dumbarton Road, Partick, Glasgow. Knife used, pounds 40,000 stolen. Attack No 3 -Just 20 minutes later, a Brinks van was hit at Bank of Scotland, Crow Road, Glasgow. Gun used, pounds 44,000 taken.

Attack No 4 -Van at Bank of Scotland, Blackness Road, Linlithgow. Gun used, pounds 40,000, taken.

Attack No 5 -Van at Bank of Scotland, Brandon Parade, Motherwell. Gun used, cash stolen unknown.

In the latest attack on Friday afternoon, the gang wore their trademark boiler suits and balaclavas.

Their leader entered the Brinks van carrying a shotgun. He assaulted a guard before taking piles of cash and escaping in a dark-coloured car.

Police fear the armed robberies in busy streets will lead to innocent people being injured or killed.

One officer said: ``All it takes is one of these men to panic and all hell could break loose.''

DS Joe McKerns, who is leading the inquiry, said: ``The presence of firearms in incidents is something which is always regarded as extremely serious by police.''

Three of the gang's robberies have been at Bank of Scotland branches on Friday evenings.

The first happened last December in Uddingston. Two of the men were armed with shotguns. It was during that attack that a guard was soaked with petrol.

The pattern was repeated a week later when a Brinks van at Linlithgow was hit by the gang.

They were also linked to two robberies within 20 minutes of each other in Glasgow's West End.

DS Kenny McLeod, who is investigating last week's raid in Motherwell, said: ``There have been four previous robberies in the Strathclyde area.

``The amount of money taken in the latest incident will run into thousands. It's too early to link the five incidents positively but it certainly has not been ruled out.

``They have all involved Brinks vans, so we'll obviously be looking into possible connections.''

Brinks, one of the world's largest security firms, is based in the USA. Here, the name is most commonly associated with the Brinks-Mat raid on November 26, 1983.

Six armed gunmen burst into the company's warehouse at Heathrow Airport and stole pounds 26million in gold ingots. Gangster Kenneth Noye was jailed for his part in the raid.

One former detective said: ``In criminal circles, armed robbers are the aristocrats of the underworld.

``They get that misplaced respect, despite innocent people being terrorised and hurt during robberies.

``There are easier ways for criminals to make money these days, through drugs and other activities.

``It is unusual for the same gang to use the same method and get away with it so many times.

``It is possible they are looking for a bit of notoriety and want to get one over on the police.''

No one at Brinks was available for comment yesterday.

Meanwhile, a security guard was seriously injured when he was shot in the leg by armed robbers outside a supermarket yesterday.

Three men ambushed a delivery van in Islington, London and stole more than pounds 20,000.

CAPTION(S):

Terror raids: A violent gang, dressed in balaclavas and armed with a shotgun, have robbed five Brinks security vans, getting away with pounds 200,000
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 14, 2003
Words:676
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