Iran bank heist: 13 arrested after 168 deposit boxes stolen

Jewellery, gold coins and dollar notes were stolen from a Tehran state bank, authorities say

Burglars cut their way in from a building next to the government-owned Bank Melli
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Iranian authorities said on Friday they had arrested 13 burglars who cut into the vault of the government-owned Bank Melli from a neighbouring building and stole 168 safe deposit boxes.

Three of the suspects were arrested in undisclosed countries abroad and the rest were caught in the Iranian capital and in the north of the country, said Ali Salehi, a prosecutor from Tehran, according to state-run Irna news agency.

The thieves took advantage of a three-day holiday last week to conduct the heist.

The stolen items were found in a car that was abandoned at Imam Khomeini International Airport, Mr Salehi said.

State TV showed footage of jewellery, gold coins and bundles of dollar bills laid out on a table.

Surveillance cameras and other monitoring items were reportedly stolen from the bank,which is near Tehran University and within walking distance of a police station.

Many banks in Tehran keep their safe deposit boxes underground.

The bank said the incident caused “limited damages”.

An alarm went off, triggering an automatic alert that was sent to the branch’s manager ― but he ignored the notice because he had received false alarms in the past, the Mehr news agency reported.

Mehr said the alarm system was not set up to alert police.

Iran has rarely witnessed bank robberies. If suspected burglars are convicted, they often face lengthy prison sentences.

Updated: June 10, 2022, 11:45 AM