Armed robbers took control of the streets of Criciúma, in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil, Monday night as they launched an assault against a local bank branches
At least 30 bank robbers armed with assault rifles invaded Criciúma in Brazil
The hooded men dressed in black launched an assault against a local branch of Banco Do Brasil
The robbery began just before midnight on Monday in the city of Criciúma and lasted nearly two hours
The bandits who preemptively attacked the local police headquarters, left cash strewn across the streets to aid their getaway as residents rush to pick it up
At least six locals were held hostage before being released by the robbers after spectacular raids on four banks across city
One police officer and a security guard were seriously injured as explosions and shots rang out across the city
Authorities said the heist was executed by ‘several men with rifles, long weapons’, who belong to ‘an organized crime gang, which specializes in bank robbery’
Around $152,000 of the stolen cash has been recovered and four people arrested, however the full amount lost in the robbery has not been revealed
Bank robbers in southern Brazil blasted explosives and fired high-caliber weapons at police late on Monday, in an audacious heist that injured two people and left reams of cash in the streets to be pocketed by locals.
Dozens of bank robbers armed with assault rifles invaded a city in southern Brazil.
After raiding local financial establishments the thieves left cash strewn across the streets to aid their getaway as residents rushed to pick up the money.
The attackers took control of the streets of Criciúma, in the state of Santa Catarina, overnight as they launched an assault against a local bank branch.
The robbery began just before midnight on Monday in the southern city of Criciúma and lasted nearly two hours, according to a statement from military police in Santa Catarina state.
Terrifying images shared on social media showed armed men firing automatic weapons on the city streets, taking hostages and then making their getaway in a fleet of cars. In their wake, the robbers left cash strewn across the streets. Residents soon spread out to snatch up the notes, television footage showed.
Two people were injured, one of them a police officer.
Brazilian bank robbers leave cash strewn across the street
Video footage filmed by residents showed hooded men dressed in black walking the streets and at least six locals being held hostage.
Police officials in Santa Catarina said the gunmen opened fire outside the 9th battalion of the military police, which oversees security in the city, before heading downtown and taking aim at the local branch of the Bank of Brazil.
The gunfire left a security guard and a police officer injured.
Police officials said the officer underwent surgery and described his condition on as ‘serious’ Tuesday morning.
There were about 30 criminals in roughly ten cars, and they blocked access points to the city to prevent police reinforcements from responding quickly, according to the Globo television network.
The takeover began around midnight and lasted roughly two hours. Images on Globo showed a bank vault with a square-shaped hole in it and a convoy of criminals’ vehicles as they made their escape.
Cash was scattered across the ground in one area of the city. Zel Florizel, a Brazilian singer and songwriter posting footage on Twitter showing local residents rushing to pick up the money.
He tweeted: ‘People taking money scattered on the floor after a mega robbery in the city of Criciúma, Brazil.
Despite the tragedy, Christmas will be better for many people in need. The gang looks specialized and was armed with Bazooka.’
Authorities have not revealed how much money had been taken during the robbery, but said they are investigating and they aim to retrieve the money. So far, $152,660 [810,000 Brazilian reais], part of the stolen cash has been recovered, according to local media.
Four people believed to be involved in the armed robbery have been arrested. “So far, four people have been arrested who collected part of the paper bills that were thrown to the ground due to the explosion,” the police said
At least 30 robbers reportedly, were involved in the heist.
Mayor Clesio Salvaro took to Twitter while the terror was still unfolding to warn locals of the ‘robbery of great proportions, by very well-prepared thieves’.
‘As mayor of Criciuma, I ask that you stay home, don’t leave home, exercise all precaution,’ Mr Salvaro said in a video he posted just before 2 a.m. local time. ‘Tell your friends and families. Let the police do their job.’
Alongside the video, he posted: ‘Criciúma is the target of a major assault. Together with the military authorities and security forces, we continue to monitor and follow the facts. Stay at home.’
Local residents described the unfolding carnage as being like a ‘movie scene’ and claimed the armed robbers had bombs.
‘My God. The entire city of Criciúma is being attacked. The guys have Bazookas, Bombs and set fire to PM bases,’ said Levi Kaique Ferreira. ‘It looks like a movie scene, scary.’
Three or four sites had been looted by the armed robbers, Mr Salvaro told Radio Gaúcha.
‘I have no idea where they are from, but they are specialized,’ he said. ‘We have never experienced this in the history of the city.’
He added that at least six people had been taken hostage, but they were later released.
‘I talked to them. They are well. The information we have is that everyone was released,’ Mr Salvaro told GloboNews. Men marched down road by paramilitary figure after Brazil bank heist.
The mayor said that the city’s protocol with armed gangs is to not shoot back at the attackers in order to protect the public.
Cristian Dimitri Andrade, a Military Police commander in Criciúma, said the attackers were ‘several men with rifles, long weapons’, describing them as ‘an organized crime gang, which specializes in bank robbery’.
‘We are receiving information from residents who send us photos and videos,’ he told Engeplus, a local news outlet.
Brazil has a long history of bank heists, and major lenders have struggled with a wave of violent robberies in recent years as criminals have mastered the use of explosives to access cash.
The city of Criciúma has a population of about 220,000. Local media have described the raid as part of a phenomenon they call ‘New Cangaço’, which is a term used to describe the robberies that plagued Brazil in the 1920s and 1930s.
In 2017, the Brazilian police found a tunnel fitted with electrical lighting and ventilation, thwarting a planned robbery of a São Paulo bank. Sixteen suspects were arrested.
In 2019, there were 21 bank robberies in the state of São Paulo alone, according to official figures. In the first half of 2020, there had already been 14.