A trio of masked robbers ambushed two armored-car guards inside a service elevator at the World Trade Center here Tuesday, making off with an estimated $1.6 million in Japanese yen and other foreign currencies, authorities said.
Despite tight security measures installed after the 1993 terrorist bombing that killed six people and injured more than 1,000 others at the trade center, the robbers were able to slip in and out of the 110-story Tower One in about nine minutes, police said.
But the stickup men were not clever enough to evade four of the trade center’s scores of video surveillance cameras, said Frank Fox, of the Port Authority police.
Nine hours after the robbery, the suspects’ faces were being broadcast on the evening news.
It is “very possible” the three-minute robbery was an inside job, Fox said, pointing to the swiftness of the holdup, the suspects’ quick entrance and exit and the fact that they appeared to “select” three of the six bags of cash carried by the couriers.
U.S. currency may have been left behind on purpose, sources said, suggesting that domestic dollars are easier to trace.
“There is an argument to be made that for the ultra-sophisticated transfer, foreign currency is desirable.”
On Tuesday, a dragnet was out for the suspects, described as two white men and a black man dressed in casual attire. Authorities said they could have escaped on foot, by car or even by subway.
Asked if police would re-evaluate security measures at the trade center, Fox said, “That’s an ongoing process.”