Berlin - Friday at 10am on Kudamm, what looked like a cheap detective movie was actually a violent armoured car robbery.

Thieves disguised in the bright orange work clothes of the city's sanitation department held up a blue Ziemann cash truck in the middle of the famous shopping street and absconded with several cash boxes. They hastily stuffed money into a massive white sack, dragged it to the street and loaded it into the trunk of a silver getaway car.

The car, an Audi S6, was later found burned out on Bessemerstraße in Schöneberg near a Kaufland supermarket. The robbery was caught on videos that have widely circulated on social media. 

Although fewer people were likely on the sidewalk because of corona, a man can be seen on one of the videos sitting nearby with a blanket over his legs– apparently hoping to to collect a few euros in donations. Nearby, much larger sums were being moved.

Pepper spray

How much the perpetrators netted in the alleged robbery is unclear.

Armoured truck drivers normally remain in the truck while their partner delivers the cash. The suspects were likely waiting for the guard as he came out of the bank. When he opened the van, they struck. According to the Berliner Zeitung, the robbers sprayed one guard in the face with pepper spray. The man was apparently caught by surprise.

The suspects then instructed the security guards to lie on the floor and remain quiet. They threatened the two guards with weapons – the pair were injured and taken to hospital, but have since been released.

Photo: Morris Pudwell
The suspected getaway car in Schöneberg.

The robbery was over after just a few seconds - and the suspects couldn't close the Audi's trunk lid, witnesses said. The same thing happened two years ago during a robbery at Alexanderplatz in which shots were fired. The getaway cars often have large motors but small trunks.

The Audi was found burned out a little later on Bessemerstraße in Schöneberg. The vehicle was impounded, examined and brought to a secure area.

A series of robberies has plagued armored trucks over the past year. On 17 December as many as three men attacked a cash transport at the Treptower Park Center – they also used pepper spray. Two days earlier, three robbers with firearms ambushed a cash transport at the back entrance of the Ikea furniture store in Schöneberg. A suspect in that case was caught in mid-January.

Another in a series

In all cases, investigators are looking into whether there are links to Arab gangs - as was the case with the Alexanderplatz robbery. The suspects in that case have been arrested and a connection to Friday's robbery is under investigation.

According to the police, the clans are suffering from a shortage of money, not only because the constant raids are having an effect – police raided a number of clan-related sites Thursday. The corona restrictions are also bad for crime. For example, fewer drugs can be sold because clubs are closed and the lucrative black market tobacco racket has been all but shut down since shisha bars can't open. 

Untaxed tobacco is a key source of income and customs as recently as November stormed a warehouse in Buckow, where ten tons of illegal tobacco were stored that had not been consumed in the bars. 

Adapted from the German article about the Kudamm robbery by Andrew Bulkeley. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.