By Chuah Bee Kim
SEGAMAT MALAYSIA: It was like a scene out of a Hollywood movie yesterday as four masked men pulled off a well-planned robbery, escaping with RM1 million from an armoured van in front of a bank, a mere 100m from the Labis police station.
The men are believed to be familiar with the routine of the bank and the armoured van as the 11.45am heist was pulled off with clockwork precision.
Witnesses described the robbers as being so confident and quick that bank customers were not sure whether it was a real robbery until police arrived.
The entire episode took less than five minutes, from the time the robbers pulled up to the van outside the Maybank branch office in a white Toyota Harrier.
Three men, all wearing ski masks and armed with semi-automatic pistols, alighted from the sports utility vehicle while the driver waited at the wheel.
They fired six warning shots, punching holes into the roof of the covered walkway at the side of the road and two cars parked nearby.
Pointing their weapons at the heads of two security guards, who were loading bags of cash into the van, the robbers ordered the guards to lie on the ground.
The bags of cash, which are believed to be for the salaries of oil palm estate workers in Labis and nearby Chaah, were then loaded onto the Harrier and the men made good their escape.
"It was all so surreal. They (the robbers) were so confident and quick we thought they were filming a movie," said a bank customer who witnessed the robbery.
A police source said the robbers had apparently studied the routine of money withdrawal at the bank and had prepared a very detailed escape plan.
"They seemed to know when the money would be withdrawn and at what time the security guards would come to pick up the money.
"They probably even knew how much they would get.
"They seemed to be very confident of themselves as the bank is located along a main road just 100 metres from the Labis police station," said the source.
Police later found the robbers' getaway vehicle, which is believed to be stolen, abandoned near a railway track about 300m from the scene of the crime.
They were believed to have escaped in another vehicle, or possibly several vehicles, which they had parked there as part of their getaway plan.
District police chief Superintendent Abdul Majid Mohd Ali said investigations were underway.