Record bank robbery spree may be solved

The longest series of bank heists in the history of Austria could have been clarified.

Police in Vienna announced yesterday (Thurs) two Macedonians were accused of being behind 24 robberies in the city as well as two bank heists in Lower Austria. A 34-year-old suspect was sentenced to nine years in jail after being arrested in 2009. Investigators made him responsible for three bank robberies. The man kept quiet about possible accomplices.

His alleged comrade – a primary school friend – was arrested in Berlin, Germany, shortly after having robbed a bank in Graz, the provincial capital of Styria, last January. He may have used up to 16 different identities, according to the police. The 33-year-old was extradited to Austria some days ago.

The pair are suspected of having started to rob banks in 2004. They spent most of the loot on visits to brothels, gambling in casinos and on drugs. Officials had no information on how much money they grabbed in the heists overall, but added that most of it may be gone.

Police also explained that all but three robberies took place at branches of Erste Bank Group AG (Erste Bank). They said the robbers were armed on all occasions and once fired at a cyclist who attempted to catch them. The man was unharmed in the incident in Vienna in 2006.