Five men of Nigerian descent have been arrested in connection with a daring armed robbery at a money exchange house in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The suspects, in their 20s, according to the police, stole currencies worth over Dh2m during a seven-minute robbery at the Al Tauwain branch of the Al Ansari Exchange around midnight on March 20.
The police said they had recovered foreign and UAE currencies worth Dh2.3m from the suspects, according to gulfnews.com. Giving details of the incident at a press conference in Sharjah, the Commander-in-chief of the Sharjah Police, Major General Saif Ziri Al Shamsi, said, “Four of the suspects entered the exchange and attacked its employees, while the fifth was waiting for them in a car outside.
“The suspects also threatened the employees with sharp weapons before taking away cash. The whole operation lasted seven minutes.” The suspects reportedly smashed the panel at the exchange with hammers and jumped inside the counter, where the safe box was kept. Two of the exchange employees allegedly sustained minor injuries while resisting the suspects.
Al Shamsi said by the time the police were informed about the incident, the suspects had escaped, adding that the employees failed to activate the alarm to alert the police. The alarm went off four minutes after the raid, which gave the suspects a chance to escape, he noted. However, the police managed to catch up with them through surveillance camera footage.
The gang had reportedly travelled in a used car, which led the police to the first suspect within 48 hours of the crime. As it turned out, the gang members had spread themselves out in other emirates after the robbery to escape notice and had planned to communicate with one another through their Facebook accounts.
Al Shamsi said the police, which had formed a special team, traced their whereabouts and raided their hideouts in Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi. All the suspects were arrested with the help of the police forces in the respective emirates. During the raids, the police recovered the stolen money and sharp weapons. According to the police, three of the suspects had resident visas, while two of them were on visiting visas.
The head of the gang had entered the UAE just two days before the robbery and all the five were said to have confessed to the crime and said that they intended to leave the country after the operation. It was gathered that the case had been referred to the public prosecution office for further action. Fifteen Nigerians, including four women, were arrested for illegal stay during the search operations.