May 3, 1997 in Nation/World

Smoke Clears, $1.5 Million Gone

Associated Press

Thieves set off a smoke bomb at an armored car yard before dawn Friday and whisked away $1.5 million from one of the parked vehicles.

The money was taken at about 5:15 a.m. by at least two thieves, who got away without confronting any guards, police Sgt. Paul Finnie said.

Two employees were at the yard at the time. Finnie said the theft was being investigated as an inside job.

It was the second time in more than six years that Berkshire Armored Car Services, based in Pittsfield, has been the target of a big-money heist.

In 1991, three armed robbers in ski masks confronted guards and stole $1.2 million from an armored car at a Berkshire Armored Car garage in Pittsfield. Four men were later convicted.

District Attorney William Bennett said the smoke bomb was apparently used for cover. “During the confusion … the money was taken,” he said. But police said the reason for the smoke bomb was unclear.

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