Nation's biggest robbery, gang hits|
warehouse in Penang
From New Straits Times Online of November 21, 2006
By Sharanjit Singh, Lee Keng Fatt, Marina Emmanuel and Aaron Ngui
GEORGE TOWN: They made it look too easy. Dressed in Rela uniform but armed with drugs, 20 men yesterday pulled off the biggest robbery the country has ever known.
In an hour, they looted almost RM50 million of computer parts from under the noses of security at the Batu Maung Free Commercial Zone.
The robbers knocked out the workers at the Bax Global Logistics Sdn Bhd warehouse by forcing them to drink chloroform.
Then they hauled away 585 cartridges of microchips and computer parts in two lorries, leaving Malaysia Airlines security staff dazed. The zone is managed by MAS.
On the way out, the robbers attacked two Customs officers and a lorry driver at the checkpoint before ripping apart the alarm and snatching their cell phones.
Police have set up a task force and two suspects have already been detained.
Police are believed to be working on an inside job theory as the heist was carried out "too smoothly". The robbers also knew exactly when to strike.
The microchips and computer components were sent from a factory in Penang to the warehouse in three consignments yesterday.
They were to be flown out to several countries in the Asia Pacific region later yesterday.
The robbers struck at 2.30am, less than two hours after the last consignment arrived at the warehouse. They arrived in two 40-foot container lorries.
The drivers and attendants in both vehicles were clad in Rela uniform, complete with yellow berets.
They drove through the MAS Free Zone lane at the checkpoint without being stopped for security checks and made their way to the warehouse.
The four robbers got out and immediately rounded up all 17 workers at the warehouse.
They told the workers they were there to conduct urine checks for drug abuse and to weed out illegals.
The workers became suspicious. When they demanded to see identification documents, the four opened the two containers and 16 masked men, some brandishing parangs, came out to confront the victims.
It was then that the workers were forced to drink a chloroform-laced drink. While the workers were groaning and throwing up, the robbers went about their business.
Sources said the robbers knew exactly what they came for and went for the microchips and computer components.
There were allegedly other valuables in the warehouse but these were ignored by the masked men.
After loading the two containers, the robbers destroyed several close-circuit television cameras and took away the tapes.
They then stopped at the checkpoint to confront the Customs officers and a lorry driver submitting his declaration forms for checks.
After assaulting the three and snatching their mobile phones, the robbers went into the guardhouse and destroyed the telephones, giving them ample time to escape before the alarm could be raised.
State police chief Datuk Koh Hong Sun said initial investigations showed about 20 robbers were involved.
Police believe these are locals between the ages of 20 and 40.
Koh confirmed that at least four of them were wearing Rela uniforms. Police have mounted roadblocks.
He said 17 people, including the two Customs officers, were injured in the incident.
At least 13 of them have been warded at the Penang Hospital.