Oceans 13
December 22, 2004 6:34 AM   Subscribe

This was not a lucky crime, this was a well-organised crime A gang stole at least £20m ($40 m) in cash from a Belfast bank yesterday. Many suspect the involvement of one of the paramilitary organizations which collectively made off with over £43m during 22,000 armed robberies during the Troubles using the tiger kidnap. Only one problem: most of the cash was in Northern Irish notes. Which sometimes are not even accepted in the rest of the UK.
posted by fshgrl (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
i live about a mile, maybe 2, from one of the hostage families and i was in belfast at the time of the robbery. it wasn't me though, i promise.

if it was a paramilitary robbery then they have access to some pretty sophisticated money laundering schemes... it'll be interesting to see how/if they're caught.
posted by knapah at 6:50 AM on December 22, 2004


That's nothing. A gang in China stole an escalator. (scroll down)
posted by infidelpants at 6:54 AM on December 22, 2004


most of the cash was in Northern Irish notes. Which sometimes are not even accepted in the rest of the UK.

My sister brings these home when she comes back from school. Currency printed by local banks, featuring the bank manager's family, is going to be taken lightly. Especially by thieves.
posted by yerfatma at 7:07 AM on December 22, 2004


Geez, "tiger kidnappings" are getting popular, no? They've even shown up in film lately.

I suppose someday "money" (what is "money" now anyway, when it's backed up by nothing?) will be completely digital and there'll be nothing but "data crimes." Not that this would put tiger kidnappings out of the picture anyway.
posted by Shane at 7:10 AM on December 22, 2004


"That's nothing. A gang in China stole an escalator. "

Sounds like the work of second-story men.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:33 AM on December 22, 2004


If these Northern Irish notes really are worthless outside of NI, then this reminds me of those Scooby Doo episodes where the gang would get a chest full of Confederate bills...
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:37 AM on December 22, 2004


When I heard this on NPR, I laughed at how clever it sounded. It sounds just like some movie script... amazing they got away with it, though.
posted by odinsdream at 7:43 AM on December 22, 2004


Although they're not legal tender and individual businesses often refuse them, NI banknotes are technically the same as UK sterling notes and therefore not worthless outside of the UK: just very conspicuous.
posted by fshgrl at 7:46 AM on December 22, 2004


"That's nothing. A gang in China stole an escalator. "

I don't think we should elevate this story any further.
posted by Cancergiggles at 8:27 AM on December 22, 2004


They could just burn the Irish notes and keep the rest, still quite a haul "The thieves got away with a substantial number of mainly used notes in euros, US dollars and a huge amount of sterling, both with Northern Irish and Bank of England markings."
posted by zeoslap at 8:28 AM on December 22, 2004


fshgrl - Not just very conspicuous - I defy anyone to spend more than £5 in a day in the rest of the UK. I think I'd rather try with the confederate bills.
posted by Cancergiggles at 8:32 AM on December 22, 2004


Of course, the escalator used to go to the third floor.
But that's another story.
posted by Floydd at 8:48 AM on December 22, 2004


No way, it was the nightfox. After all, he's the best.
posted by recursive at 9:19 AM on December 22, 2004


Cancergiggles, several large chains make it policy to accept all UK notes. Your newsagent won't accept them but Marks and Spencer will, so I think "very conspicuous" is a fair assessment.
posted by ninebelow at 9:19 AM on December 22, 2004


I liked the fark comment calling this probably the work of O'Shea's 12.
posted by bobo123 at 11:10 AM on December 22, 2004


Geez, "tiger kidnappings" are getting popular, no? They've even shown up in film lately.

They showed up in 2001 in Bandits, although admittedly they were a little different.

BTW, an enjoyable movie.
posted by Four Flavors at 11:32 AM on December 22, 2004


it's easy to use these notes in the rest of the UK if you're a good arguer.

"see this passport? it's a UK one right? so what does it say, "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". yeah, you see that? that means it's part of this country, and as they're NI notes they're this country's money. so tell me again, why don't you accept them?"

i've used that on many occasions in england. it normally works.
posted by knapah at 12:31 PM on December 22, 2004


It's sort of like trying to spend $2 bills, Sacajawea or Susan B. Anthony dollar coins in the US. Machines (except for the post office) seldom take them and many salesclerks examine them closely before accepting them (if they even do). There's something particularly annoying about having to argue your money is actually money.
posted by tommasz at 2:55 PM on December 22, 2004


CNN just posted a more detailed account from AP.

It raises one question, though. They initially gained access to McMullan's home by posing as police officers and telling McMullan that a relative had died in a car crash. Later on, it says the group "took extensive precautions against leaving traces of their identities" and "remained masked." (Though it's not clear whether they were masked throughout the entire operation, or when exactly they "remained masked.")

Police officers, of course, don't usually wear masks. Were they not wearing the masks when they first came to his house? With all their other careful planning to conceal their identity, it seems like they're not the type to let McMullan see their faces, even for a second. On the other hand, if they were wearing masks at that point, how did they convince McMullan they were police officers?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:31 PM on December 22, 2004


It's sort of like trying to spend $2 bills, Sacajawea or Susan B. Anthony dollar coins in the US. Machines (except for the post office) seldom take them and many salesclerks examine them closely before accepting them (if they even do). There's something particularly annoying about having to argue your money is actually money.

God, I used to hate that. I worked in the US for one summer and when I'd go to the post office I'd get dollar coins and such like back in change and then when I'd try to use them I'd get accused of trying to use 'my foreign money' when I was really using legal US tender!!
posted by daveirl at 4:36 PM on December 22, 2004


I used to get ready worked up about the NI money thing, until I did some research. As far as I can tell, throughout the UK, the only notes that are legal tender in the UK are Bank of England notes and Bank of Scotland notes. All the other banks in NI and Scotland that print notes only get away with it because their notes are accepted by convention.

You'd be surprised how much in the UK is only allowed by convention.
posted by ascullion at 5:17 PM on December 22, 2004


You'd be surprised how much in the UK is only allowed by convention.

I'd imagine there's an entire unwritten constitution, and common law.
posted by metaldark at 8:25 PM on December 22, 2004


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