Robbers Tunnel Into Bank, Steal $65M

Thieves tunneled nearly 300 feet to a Central Bank vault in northeastern Brazil (search) and stole about $65 million, police said Monday, in what has been described as the biggest such robbery ever in Brazil.

The money was stolen from the Central Bank's vault in the city of Fortaleza (search), about 1,550 miles northeast of Sao Paulo.

The thieves built a 13-foot deep, 262-foot-long tunnel from a house near the bank to the vault, federal police said in a statement.

The elaborate tunnel had electric lights and walls reinforced with wood panels and lined with plastic sheeting, police said.

The short statement did not explain how the robbers broke through the vault's six-foot thick concrete walls to reach the cash. Police said the robbers left behind a drill, electric saw and a blowtorch.

The heist took place sometime between 6 p.m. Friday when the vault was closed for the weekend, and 8 a.m. Monday when it was reopened. The statement said cameras and motion detectors inside the vault did not function.

The biggest previous bank heist in Brazil took place in 1999 when thieves got away with about $16 million from a Sao Paulo (search) bank.