30/05/2008

Security Firm Targeted By Tiger Kidnapping

A substantial sum of money - believed to be around £200,000 - has been handed over to so-called 'Tiger' kidnappers.

A mum and her four-year-old son were kidnapped for a ransom demand, police have revealed and it is believed the boy's father - an employee of a secure institution close to Belfast - was ordered to hand over the money to see their safe return.

The family were seized by a gang of men at their home near Killough in Co Down on Wednesday, and held for 12 hours at a vacant house in south Belfast.

The woman was able to free herself from the house at Ravenhill Road.

Police said that while both were uninjured in the ordeal, they were left badly shaken.

The cash, demanded by the gang, was left somewhere in the greater Belfast area and was collected, police confirmed.

Tiger kidnapping requires a detailed knowledge of staff - their journeys, their responsibilities and their families.

During the massive Securitas robbery in 2006, the manager of the depot, Colin Dixon, was abducted by the gang along with his wife and child.

Knowing that his family was being held hostage, Mr Dixon was forced to help the robbers gain access to the depot - who escaped with many £millions - as it turned out, aided by an insider at the company - whose connection to the crime later led to prosecutions.

Among the five men convicted of kidnap, robbery and firearms charges earlier this year - following the £53m raid in Kent - was Emir Hysenaj, who as a Securitas employee filmed inside the depot using a hi-tech video camera - only the size of a 50p coin – and fitted to his belt.

However, it was the more prosaic CCTV cameras that 'captured' and in the end helped identify the armed robbers who held the depot manager, his family and 14 members of staff hostage as they loaded cash into the back of a 7.5-tonne lorry.

The Securitas robbery was the most high profile of such crimes, but similar tactics were also believed to have been used by the gang responsible for the £26m Northern Bank raid in Belfast in December 2004, where two executives were abducted and forced to help in the robbery.

This week's robbery is being probed by a PSNI team led by Detective Superintendent Karen Baxter who described the incident as a despicable crime.

"Here we have a mother and a four-year-old child, two vulnerable members of the community, who have been subjected to a frightening ordeal by a gang of organised criminals who cared only for their own personal gain," she said.

"While we know that the woman and her child were not physically harmed, one can only imagine the fear they must have felt as every hour went by, not knowing where their husband and father was, and hoping they would be set free unharmed."

See: Spy' TV Camera Aided Securitas Robbery

(BMcC)

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