March 2, 2009

Who's the rat?

He’ll have to go back one day.
He’ll have to walk in and attempt to get back down to work and concentrate on whatever tasks are assigned to him. He’ll have to try, somehow, to put to the back of his mind the terror that has been visited upon him just because he happens to work there
But, most of all, Shane Travers will have to ignore the fact that somewhere in the College Green branch of the Bank of Ireland is the person who betrayed him.
And what’s worse, he won’t have a clue who it is. It could be the guy who passes him on the corridor; it could be the woman who stands a few feet away from him as he goes outside for some air. It could be just about anybody.
Someone in that building is directly responsible for what happened to Shane Travers last Thursday. He, or she, is directly responsible for his girlfriend Stephanie Smith, her mother Joan and nephew Stephen being held at gunpoint, tied up, bundled into a van and dumped in an abandoned house in Co Meath.
Someone, somewhere, in that building sold out his or her colleagues for probably a few hundred grand.
When the dust dies down over the massive Tiger kidnapping last week, when we’ve all largely forgotten about it, Shane Travers will still have to face his demons. He will, unless he is posted somewhere else in the bank, have to work in the same building as the person who set him up. That will be tough – he’s bound to be looking more closely than ever before at everyone who works there, wondering was he or she the one?
As the Garda investigation continues into the raid, officers are fighting several fires at the same time. They are obviously desperate to get their hands on the rest of the €7.6 million that was stolen in the raid. They recovered some €1.8 million when they stopped a car after a chase on the M50 late on Friday night. It was some feat to get any of the money back within such a short period of time - but it means almost €6 million of new and unused Euro notes are still out there.
The Garda units will also be trying to gather enough evidence for the robbers themselves to be charged.
They’re one of the most vicious and prolific in Dublin. They’re all young men, in their 20s, and some of them have a fearsome reputation for violence. In one instance recently one of the 10 or so people involved in the gang even followed a Garda to his home and poured acid on his car, before leaving two shotgun cartridges on the vehicle. If they do that to a Garda, what would they have done to Shane Travers if he put up a fight?
But another key element of the Garda probe will be to get the rat in the bank.
It’s inconceivable that the gang had no internal help in this one – they simply knew too much about the bank. Not only did they know where Shane Travers lived, but they also had key details on other workers in the vault. For example, they gave Mr Travers photographs of the homes of several of his colleagues to show them when he went in to the bank on Friday morning. And they also gave him a photograph they had of one of his bosses. The not so subtle message was clear: if the money is not handed over, we are all in trouble.
That is one explanation why the tight security procedures within the bank were not followed on Friday morning – it wasn’t just one worker who feared for his life; it was all of them.
The gangs and the gardai have been fighting a war for the best part of a decade when it comes to banks and cash. When the criminals carried out good old fashioned armed robberies in branches, the banks invested significant resources in upgrading security there. So then the robbers targeted cash in transit vans – and Achilles heel in terms of security. So, again, the security companies reacted by beefing up security there. Then it was the turn of the criminals to target the weakest link of any security system: the people who use it. Vulnerable security staff were targeted in their own homes and ordered to drop off cash – or else their loved ones would be harmed. Again, cash companies reacted by bringing in new security systems. In the case of security vans, for example, money can only be released centrally, staff have no access to cash and the vehicle itself is monitored by satellite.
When it comes to banks, like College Green, a single employee can’t simply walk in and take out €7.6 million in hard cash. There are other layers of security that will prevent that. Well, that was the theory – but last week showed criminal gangs can be cunning as well as vicious.
They knew they’d fail if they targeted Travers alone. So they encouraged his colleagues to cooperate by informing them they were in just as much danger as he was. The Bank was just lucky the gang didn’t get away with more cash: they gave him four laundry bags, which he filled with €7.6 million. If they’d given him more bags, he’d have filled them too. There was around €100 million in the vault – God knows how much they could have gotten away with.
While gardai are hopeful that they have enough evidence to charge suspects in relation to the incident tonight, it’s clear there are people out there who were heavily involved in this who have not been arrested. They’re sitting back, waiting for the fuss to die down, waiting for the time they can move the cash out of Ireland. All the notes are new, so it will have to be laundered abroad. But, even if they only get one third of their face value, it’s still a huge amount of money.
And there’ll be one bank employee who will be waiting to get a significant cut in return for an act of treachery – unless the gardai come knocking first.

1 comment:

  1. Michael great story
    Do you even have one reliable source in the underworld?
    people are under the impression that a crime investigative journalist does just that.
    Reading your articles its not the case.
    its clearly apparent that you are spoonfed your "stories" you are not a proper journalist more of a comic book character, living in a gottem city style surrealism. get your thumb out and do some real investigations, stop being so lazy.