LONDON – Three Britons made their first court appearances Thursday on charges stemming from last month's elaborate heist of $92 million from a cash depot in southeast London — one of the world's largest bank thefts.
Police also announced their 14th arrest in the case.
The two men and a woman who appeared at Maidstone Magistrates Court were the first charged with involvement in the robbery of the Securitas Cash Management Ltd. warehouse in Tonbridge, 30 miles southeast of London.
Thieves took 53 million pounds, the equivalent of $92 million, during the night of Feb. 21-22.
Car salesman John Fowler, 57, was charged Wednesday with conspiracy to rob the warehouse and with kidnapping cash depot manager Colin Dixon, his wife, Lynn, and their 9-year-old son.
An additional charge of handling stolen goods was lodged in court. That charge is related to steel cages that were used to contain cash.
Stuart Royle, 47, was charged with conspiracy to rob, while Kim Shackleton, 39, was charged with handling stolen goods.
The judge, Jennifer Crickman-Porter, denied applications for bail by Fowler and Shackleton. All three were ordered to appear in court again March 13.
Police said Thursday they arrested another man on suspicion of joining in a robbery conspiracy.
Fowler, described in news reports as a flamboyant millionaire who bragged of being a special forces veteran, owns a farm near Tonbridge that has been the focus of intensive police searches. Police have refused to confirm TV reports that a substantial amount of money was found at the farm.
Sky News TV speculated that the police were investigating whether the farm was the place where the robbers held Dixon and his family.
Staff went back to work at the cash depot Wednesday for the first time since robbers got away with their record haul.
The 14 employees who were held hostage by the robbers will not return until "they and their counselors decide the time is right," Securitas spokesman Carl Courtney said.
The sophisticated robbery is believed to be the largest heist during peacetime. It eclipsed a $70 million theft from the Central Bank in Fortaleza, Brazil in August, a $65 million heist at the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Center in London in 1987, and a $50 million robbery at the Northern Bank of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2004.
But all four were dwarfed by the wartime theft of $900 million in U.S. bills and as much as $100 million worth of euros from the Iraq Central Bank in 2003.