Five men arrested for stealing Dh2.3 million in raid on Al Ansari exchange

Fifteen more people connected to the gang were found to be in the country illegally

More than Dh2 million in various currencies was stolen but later recovered. Courtesy: Sharjah Police
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Five men have been arrested over a raid on an exchange house in Sharjah in which Dh2.3 million was stolen.

The suspects, all Nigerians in their 20s, watched the centre for days prior to the robbery on March 20, police said.

Armed with knives and hammers, four of them raided the Al Ansari Exchange office in Al Taawun and fought with two of the employees.

The fifth man waited in the getaway car outside.

"One of the employees sustained minor injuries to the back after being hit with a solid object by one of the offenders when he tried to stop them by shutting the glass door," said Rashid Al Ansari, Al Ansari Exchange general manager, during a press conference at Sharjah Police headquarters.

They couldn't take all of it, probably due to the time factor

He said that the suspects were able to get to the vault and steal some of the cash from inside.

“They couldn’t take all of it, probably due to the time factor because they wanted to get away as soon as they could,” he said.

The employee who was hurt in the attack was able to alert police via the alarm system, while another employee called the operations room.

Major General Saif Al Shamsi, commander-in-chief of Sharjah Police said the robbery took nearly eight minutes.

Officers arrived to the crime scene and were able to get footage of the suspects from CCTV.

“The plate number of the getaway car helped us locate one suspect and arrest him within 48 hours,” he said.

The remaining suspects were arrested in Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman, in co-operation with police forces in those emirates.

He said the the entire stolen amount was recovered.

The operation that resulted in arresting the suspects lasted 72 hours.

Maj Gen Al Shamsi also added they apprehended 15 Nigerian people with whom some of the suspects lived with.
"The 15 people including four women, were staying in the country illegally," he said.
Two of the suspects arrived into the country on visit visas, with one arriving just two days before the robbery.

“The three others have residency visas issued by their work place, a contracting company,” he said.

The incident is the latest of a series of raids on exchange offices in recent years.

Asked about the potential need for enhanced security measures, Mr Al Ansari said it would be looked at, but with 185 branches across the country, it would be very expensive.

“We are considering options that prioritise the safety of the employees,” he said.