Ramblings & ephemera

Better technical security increases personal risks

From The New York Times‘ “They Stole $92 Million, but Now What?“:

Just one week ago, Colin Dixon, the manager of a depot where bank notes are stored, was driving home on a quiet Tuesday evening when what he thought was a police car with flashing blue lights pulled him over.

It was the beginning, as it turned out, of Britain’s biggest ever cash caper. Seven days later, a staggering $92 million — around twice the previous record in a country that seems to specialize in mind-boggling robberies — seems simply to have disappeared.

The men who ordered Mr. Dixon, 51, to pull over were not police officers but hoodlums who bundled him into their Volvo and handcuffed him. According to police accounts, he was told that his wife, Lynn, 45, and son Craig, 8, would be shot if he did not cooperate.

Less than two hours later, more bogus police officers called at Mr. Dixon’s home in Herne Bay and told his wife that he had been in an accident. She and her son believed their story and walked into captivity. The family was reunited at a farmhouse, then driven to the depot at Tonbridge, in the county of Kent southeast of London, according to police accounts. Then their ordeal really began. …

The haul was enormous even by the standards of a land that likes to express its criminal landmarks through thefts of industrial proportions — more than twice the $45 million taken in a caper at Northern Bank in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in December 2004, at that time the biggest cash robbery on record. The Irish Republican Army was blamed for that robbery.

But one similarity between the robberies has raised worrisome questions about the way money is protected.

In both cases, employees and families were taken hostage, forcing managers to help the thieves. And so the most vulnerable point in guarding the cash has become the people who know the codes and procedures to bypass sophisticated security systems.

Such tactics “are part and parcel of the shift towards the technologized management of money,” said Tim Newburn, a professor of criminology at the London School of Economics.

According to the BBC, such abductions are known as tiger kidnappings, because the victims are stalked before they are seized. “Tiger kidnapping requires a detailed knowledge of staff — their journeys, their responsibilities and their families — which often comes with the help of a current or former employee.”

In other words, an inside job.

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