The armoured security van had left the city of Bari, in the southern region of Puglia, and was carrying pensions destined for post offices in nearby Matera yesterday when its path was blocked by two lorries, which were quickly set ablaze, police said.
Two diggers then tore open the vehicle, using their mechanical arms “like tin openers” to gain access to the cash, local media reported.
Four masked men fired shots from automatic weapons to intimidate the three security guards inside the van during the heist, before escaping in two waiting cars. The guards were shaken but not hurt in the raid.
#Bari, spettacolare rapina ad un furgone portavalori sulla statale 96 barese. La banda ha bloccato la strada con 2 camion dati alle fiamme e poi ha sventrato il mezzo con una ruspa. E' caccia ai rapinatori. Al #Tg2rai ore 20,30 pic.twitter.com/1m2ANjp4aY
— Tg2 (@tg2rai) January 2, 2019
Traffic was blocked on the highway for several hours as police investigated and emergency services removed the burning vehicles.
Such coordinated attacks on security vans have happened in Italy before.
For example, in 2015, a gang armed with Kalashnikovs blocked a motorway and stole around €5 million in a “military-style assault” on an armoured vehicle on a motorway near Ancona.