Back to list

Court orders 'raincoat robber' suspect held incommunicado

2012/05/25 23:11:58

Taipei, May 25 (CNA) The Taipei District Court agreed Friday to a request by local prosecutors to detain a man suspected of being involved in several bank heists.

The Taipei Prosecutors Office said the suspect, named Wang Yuan, confessed that he attacked a van transporting cash for Taiwan Business Bank's Nanjing branch on March 26 and made off with NT$12.5 million (US$421,945).

He also shot one of the security guards during the heist.

Wang was arrested Thursday at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport as he was preparing to depart for Beijing and handed over to prosecutors, who petitioned the court for permission to detain him to prevent him from fleeing or compromising evidence.

The court agreed to the request based on Wang's record of committing several felonies, including aggravated robbery and violations of the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act.

Some of the stolen money remains unaccounted for, and the court feared that giving the suspect bail would make it harder to find the missing funds.

Investigators said Wang was dressed in a raincoat during the heist, and police found the motorcycle dumped by the suspect and a raincoat under its seat later the same day.

"We were able to nail him because of the raincoat," one investigator said, noting that the DNA collected on the raincoat was identical to Wang's.

Wang only confessed to the heist after being confronted with the DNA evidence, prosecutors said. He admitted to using NT$6 million of the stolen money to pay off a gambling debt and the remaining NT$6 million was being kept by a friend of his girlfriend.

Wang, who insisted he acted alone in pulling off the robbery, said he planned his escape route and paid attention to any surveillance videos along the route before the heist.

The use of a raincoat in the Taiwan Business Bank robbery led police to wonder if he was the notorious "raincoat robber" wanted for previous heists committed by a man dressed in a raincoat.

Police said that based on Wang's DNA and ballistic comparisons, he may have also been involved in two other bank heists involving the "raincoat robber" in 2005 and 2007 and are checking if he was involved in four other similar robberies.

Police displayed guns, raincoats, and cash obtained from raids of Wang's apartment in Taipei and his girlfriend's home in Taoyuan County at a press conference Friday, saying that several packs of cigarettes and receipts from a convenience store were key clues in cracking the case.

Law enforcement authorities sifted through many surveillance videos from locations where the heist occurred and used them to connect the robber with the man who appeared in the videos provided by the convenience stores.

(By Liu Chien-pang and Lilian Wu)