By Janet Tappin Coelho
Bungling armed robbers left behind thousands of bank notes strewn across a motorway in Brazil after over-estimating the amount of explosives needed to blow up an armoured truck.
The artless criminals are reported to have got away with just a few bags of money after panicking and fleeing the scene when they realised their chances of collecting the loot had been blown away in the huge blast that completely destroyed the truck.
A video of the aftermath of the botched raid by a gang of 10 bandits on Monday (28) shows security guards, who surrendered after a shootout when the vehicle was attacked, and military police officers, who arrived on the scene, scrambling to pick up the money.
The wreck was still smoking an hour after the explosion with pieces of the vehicle flung further down the road and notes mixed with cartridges from the gun fight.
Passing motorists who slammed on their brakes and jumped out of their cars to ‘help’ were stopped in their tracks by the agents, as were dozens of residents who tried to gather up some of the cash.
Eyewitnesses reported that the heist occurred around 10.30am when the heavily armed gangsters in three cars and two trucks sped alongside the Prosegur armoured van and blocked it in on the BR-222 highway between the cities of Umirim and San Luis de Curu, north east Brazil.
A bus travelling behind the truck with a handful of passengers, was also caught up in the incident.
Shots were exchanged between guards and the criminals, but the confrontation was short lived after security officers realised they were outnumbered in the hold-up.
A military police officer, who declined to be identified said (to Caters News): “The guards surrendered after being surrounded by the gang who were carrying high calibre weapons that were more powerful than they had.
“They were forced to get out of the truck at gunpoint and made to watch while the criminals planted the explosives in the vehicle then detonated it.
“It appears, however, that the gang underestimated the force of the explosives used to break into the vehicle and it seems the assault backfired in a way they didn’t expect,” he added.
The blast ripped through the strong car, wrecking it completely and sending loose notes, in high value denominations of 50 and 100 bills, flying all over the road.
Eyewitnesses claimed the blundering criminals managed to stuff some of the cash into a few bags before giving up and speeding off, using back routes to getaway.
“We don’t know how much the gang got away with and whether they were able to takes pouches filled with cash. But there was a lot of money left behind which was scattered all over the road,” the officer said.
After the mobsters escaped, security guards and police tried to isolate the area and were filmed collecting thousands of notes.
Some passing motorists and residents who attempted to approach the scene were warned to stay away by the agents.
No one was reported to have been injured in the shoot-out or in the explosion.
The assailants have not been identified but investigators said they are piecing together details of the crime and are hunting for the culprits.
Detectives warned that anyone found with the cash would be prosecuted. However, those who returned it voluntarily would not face charges.