Five men have been arrested in connection with a daring armed robbery at a money exchange house in Sharjah, police said on Sunday.
The suspects, all Nigerian and aged in their 20s, stole currency worth over Dh2 million during a seven-minute heist at the Al Tauwain branch of Al Ansari Exchange close to midnight on March 20.
The police said they have recovered foreign and Arab currency worth Dh2.3 million from the suspects.
Giving details of the incident at a press conference in Sharjah, Major General Saif Ziri Al Shamsi, Commander-in-chief of Sharjah Police, said, “Four of the suspects entered the exchange and attacked its employees while the fifth was waiting for them in a car outside. The suspects also threatened the employees with sharp weapons before taking away cash. The whole operation took seven minutes.”
Major General Al Shamsi said by the time the police were informed about the incident, the suspects had escaped. The employees failed to activate the alarm to alert the police. The alarm went off four minutes after the raid, which gave the suspects a chance to escape, he noted.
However, the Sharjah Police managed to catch up with them. Thanks to surveillance camera footage, they were able to identify the faces.
The gang had travelled in a used car which led the police to the first suspect within 48 hours of the crime. As it turned out, the gang members had spread themselves out in other emirates after the robbery to escape notice and had planned to communicate with each other through their Facebook accounts.
But Major General Al Shamsi said the police, which had formed a special team, traced their whereabouts and raided their hideouts in Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi. All the suspects were arrested with the help of the police forces in these emirates.
According to police, three of the suspects had resident visas while two of them were on a visit visa. The head of the gang had entered the UAE just two days before the robbery. All the five, who have confessed to the crime, said they intended to leave the country.
Fifteen Nigerians, including four women, were arrested for illegal stay during the search operations. The case has been referred to the public prosecution for further action.