TEL AVIV (Jan. 14)
A well-organized and technically proficient gang of thieves used a mobile crane to lift a safe from a fortress-like police administration building in south Tel Aviv last week getting away with about $200,000 in foreign currency and a similar amount in Israel Pounds that the police had recently confiscated from black marketeers. The theft was disclosed yesterday when Police Chief Shaul Rosolic named a special committee to investigate the incident which has the ear-marks of an inside Job.
The theft of the “evidence” will make prosecution of the alleged black market operatives all the more difficult. The red-faced police, meanwhile, have become the butt of Jokes all over Tel Aviv. The removal of large sums of stolen money from police custody has only added to the embarrassment of the law-enforcement authorities who as much as admitted recently that they have been unable to cope with the protection-extortion racket said to be flourishing in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.
SNOOZING DURING CAPER
The site of the theft was police administrative headquarters that houses the police fraud investigation division. The building is not a regular police station and its uniformed and civilian employes work there only during the day. A single night watchman patrols the premises after dark. Police believe the thieves had inside information as to the exact location of the safe where the black market money was kept.
According to a police reconstruction of the crime, the thieves parked their mobile crane near the nine-foot-high fence surrounding the building. They scaled the fence with a ladder, broke through a lower floor window and climbed four flights to the room where the safe was located. After breaking down the door they used sophisticated equipment to place the safe on a dolly, wheeled it to the building’s elevator and then out into the yard. The crane lifted the safe over the fence and it was removed, apparently by truck. The night watchman obviously did not detect any of this activity. As one wag put it, he was sleeping especially soundly that night.