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Police recover MVR6million stolen from Western Union

A group of masked men carrying knives had tied up security guards at the Western Union branch in Malé on Sunday in the biggest burglary reported in recent years



In the biggest recovery of its kind, the police found nearly MVR6million (US$389,000) stolen by masked men from a cash transfer centre.

The burglary took place at 12.45am on Sunday after a group of men carrying knives barged into the Western Union branch in Malé. According to the police, they threatened four expatriate workers, tied them up and fled with an undisclosed amount.

Those held at knifepoint are believed to be security guards employed by the firm, located at the city’s main thoroughfare Majeedhee Magu.

On Monday night, police in a Twitter post said they had recovered some MVR1,125,590 and US$321,603 of the stolen amount.

The money has since been returned to Western Union.

Local media reports suggest that the money recovered was left behind by the thieves as they tried to escape via a building under construction at Thaalhafilige in the Henveiru ward.

A bag stuffed with dollars and MVR500 notes was recovered from an elevator shaft at the construction site.

Earlier in the day, news outlets Mihaaru and Sun Online quoted eyewitnesses saying that the burglars entered the office by pretending to be servicemen working for the telecoms company Dhiraagu.

The Maldives’ network of Western Union is operated by Villa Group, owned by the leader of Jumhooree Party, Gasim Ibrahim.

Both the police and Western Union have been tight lipped about the stolen amount and the number of people involved in the heist.

The tactics of the robbery are similar to that used by a group arrested over a burglary at the Malé-based ‘MU Store’ in April. Some MVR2million (US$129,702) and US$117,000 was recovered at the time of their arrest, Sun Online reported.

The six men arrested over the burglary had also stolen from several tourist resorts by using knives to subdue security guards, the police said. The suspects had tied up the guards before fleeing with safes from the islands.

In October last year, some MVR450,000 (US$29,000) was stolen from the department of immigration.