Around 30 bank robbers armed with « bazookas » took over a town in southern Brazil, set fire to cars and began shooting with the police and eventually scattering money across the streets to encourage residents to take to the streets run – to enable them to escape.
The gang – made up of 30 masked men believed to be split between 10 cars – arrived in the city of Criciúma, Santa Catarina state, just before midnight on Monday – with the aim of to rob a number of banks, including Banco do Brasil.
After Clésio Salvaro, the city’s mayor, learned of the attack, he posted a video plea for the city on Twitter – in which just over 150. 000 people live – in which he warned residents to stay inside and that their city was « besieged ».
“At this moment the city remains under siege. This is an attack on a large scale, [with] very well trained criminals, ”he said before adding,“ The Mayor of Criciúma is now asking you to stay in your homes – don’t go out. Be careful and protect yourself in your home . . . Tell your relatives and friends that nobody is allowed to leave their homes. Let’s let the police do their job. ”
According to local media, the shooting started at midnight and military police were quick to report that a fire had been lit in a tunnel leading to the center of the city. Officials believe this was one of the gang’s many tricks to keep as many police officers at bay as possible.
Video footage filmed by local residents and uploaded to social media showed hooded men dressed in black and armed with guns walking the streets with at least six locals held hostage.
Local media reports that hostages were used as « human shields » at one point after the gang forced six civilians to sit in the middle of the street preventing police cars from reaching the bank. It is believed that only two people were injured in the crossfire between criminals and police: a security guard and a police officer.
In one clip, a woman can be heard sobbing when she hears an explosion set off in the distance. « For the love of God, » you can hear them say. It was later revealed that the gang used explosives to blow up at least one bank they hit.
« I have no idea where they’re from, but they were professionals. We have never seen anything like it in the history of this city, ”said Mayor Salvaro later about the gang.
Additional video footage showed the convoy of cars – presumably the robbers – leaving the city very quietly after the attack, as well as clips showing money-covered streets some believe the robbers planted around the Getting residents to come out the streets and preventing the police from opening fire again.
Locals ran to collect cash that they could find. One man, Zel Florizel, posted a video on Twitter of people frantically picking up bills the gang left behind.
« People are putting money on the floor after a mega-robbery in the Brazilian city of Criciúma, » wrote Florizel. Despite the tragedy, he said, “Christmas is getting better for many people in need. ”
Police have since announced that four residents have been arrested after over 800 people. 000 reais (112. 000 GBP) from the streets.
Banco do Brasi, the group’s main target, has yet to confirm how much money the thieves got away with.
Samira Bueno, the executive director of the Brazilian Public Security Forum, told reporters that this was one of several carefully planned attacks on banks in recent years that appear to have been ripped off the « scene of a movie ». .
It is believed that the gang purposely targeted a smaller town where officials would be ill-prepared to take in such a large number of attackers.
Ms. Bueno said it was « curious to see how unprepared the security forces were to deal with this incident ». .
« It was clearly the work of a group that is highly organized and specialized, » she told the New York Times.
« The criminals clearly planned, prepared and invested in advance, » Anselmo Cruz, a police officer, told local media on Tuesday. “This suggests a group that came from outside. We don’t have any criminals with this profile in Santa Catarina. ”
There are currently no reports of robbers being detained, although investigators from several parts of Brazil are said to have banded together to locate and capture the armed men.
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