A daring robbery followed by a car chase and gunfire saw a gang of assailants, some of whom posed as traffic cops, steal about $5.5 million on Monday not far from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, Moscow region police said.
The fake policemen flagged down two cars transporting the money on Domodedovskoye Shosse as if for a check, but then eight masked attackers drove by, wielding handguns and Kalashnikov automatic rifles and snatched the money while holding the drivers and private security guards at gunpoint, police said in a statement.
The victims attempted to give chase, but the criminals, who escaped in a minivan, shot out their tires, an unidentified police official told Interfax. The minivan and a Kalashnikov were later found torched outside a nearby cemetery.
Official reports did not identify the money’s owner, but news web site Lifenews.ru said it was a cotton importer from Kyrgyzstan. A case was opened on robbery charges, punishable with up to 15 years in prison. Regional police released a composite facial picture of one of the assailants on its web site.
A similar heist took place in 2009 by another city airport, Vnukovo, where attackers stole $1 million from a businessman who had flown in from Dagestan. The robbery took less than a minute, and the gun-toting attackers escaped in a car with forged license plates identical to those of the car of then-Mayor Yury Luzhkov.
The Vnukovo attack remains unsolved. News reports said at the time that it could have been carried out by former security service officers.