It seems to become a tradition that in the months leading up to an election a money transport near Rinas is robbed by masked assailants, allegedly dressed up as tax officers.
Around 15:00 today, a cash cargo of a commercial bank was robbed.
Five robbers in a van with “Tax Investigation” stickers on it broke the security fence of the airport and approached an airplane ready to take off. Money was being transferred from the armored cash transport vehicle into the plane heading to Wien, Austria. The armed robbers took the money and fled.
They allegedly came across a police car casually patrolling the area while they were on the run. The robbers opened fire, allegedly thinking police had spotted them. One of the robbers was killed in the fire exchange. However, they were able to flee again and dropped the dead body on the way.
The first reports suggested around €2 million was stolen but later the amount was reported to be around €10 million.
According to a declaration of the State Police:
“[S]everal still unidentified persons, masked and armed, after having broken through an emergency gate, robbed an amount of money on the tarmac of the [Rinas Airport] and then drove away.
The Special Forces and the Border Police of Rinas are in their pursuit.
During the chase, down a back road, the perpetrators exchanged fire with the police and one of the suspects lost his life.”
The scenario is reminiscent of a series of armed robberies near Rinas during December 2016–February 2017, leading up to the Parliamentary Elections. In one of those cases, robbers also entered the tarmac and made way with several million euros. Media outlets report that the same private security companies, Nazeri 2000 and Jaguar, were responsible for security of today’s transport.
In the aftermath of a previous robbery in Rinas, in February 2017, the then Minister of Interior Affairs Saimir Tahiri—currently in trial for drug trafficking and corruption—blamed private security firms for the lax security around money transportation, while Prime Minister Edi Rama complained about the poor security of banks:
“The success of robberies has been connected also with the miserable security systems and with the unjustifiable refusal to implement measures that have been repeatedly suggested by the State Police. […] What can the police do when the bank is not prepared to notify the police?”