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Thieves make off with millions in brazen highway robbery in Italy

Matteo Bazzi / ANSA via EPA

Police inspect a security van after it was raided by gunmen on the A9 highway between Milan and Como in northn Italy on Monday, April 8.

In what police called "the perfect robbery," bandits made off with millions of Euros in an ambush Monday on two armored security vans in northern Italy. 

The meticulously planned attack involved about a dozen men who fired smoke bombs and more than 50 shots to frighten security crews on the trucks. Astonishingly, no one was injured in the hail of bullets on the A9 highway between Milan and Como, police said.

Police told the Milan newspaper Il Giornale that the operation — which was "planned with the precision of a paramilitary operation" — went down this way:

Matteo Bazzi / ANSA via EPA

Forensic officers inspect one of the vans that was robbed in a precisely planned operation Monday, April 8, in northern Italy.

Wearing police clothing, the bandits blocked traffic on the highway by setting fire to a truck about 7 a.m. (1 a.m. ET). Once the armored vans came along, they parked another truck behind them, hemming them in. 

Firing Kalashnikov rifles into the air, the thieves set off a smoke bomb beneath one of the trucks to fool the guards into abandoning their posts in the belief that it was on fire. They then started unpacking the loot, which included an unspecified haul of gold bullion. 

In an indication of how thoroughly the bandits had studied the security company's routine, they didn't bother with the other truck, knowing it was an empty decoy, police said. The commandos escaped in three cars as police were slowed by nails the crew had scattered at three different locations.

Traffic on the busy motorway, which runs to the Swiss border, was frozen for hours.

The security company, Gruppo Battistolli di Vicenza, said it hadn't yet tabulated the haul, but because it serves banks, major retail groups and other private institutions in the area, the sum was likely to be "a few million Euros."

"They were certainly a gang of professionals, as the job was prepared down to every detail," Marco Melatti, a spokesman for the company, told the Italian news agency ANSA.

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