A Brazilian city was taken hostage overnight as more than two dozen criminals launched an assault on local bank branches. About 30 criminals divided up among about 10 vehicles stormed the southern Brazilian city of Criciúma, blocking access points to the city in an effort to prevent police from responding to the bank heists they had planned.
The mayor of Criciúma, Clésia Salvaro, took to Twitter to warn residents about the unfolding terror. “Robbery of great proportions, by very well-prepared thieves. As mayor of Criciúma, I ask that you stay home, don’t leave home, exercise all precaution,” Salvaro said in a video he posted just before 2 a.m. local time. “Tell your friends and families. Let the police do their job.”
The heist reportedly left two people injured. Gunfire and explosions could be heard throughout the city as a number of people were taken hostage but later released. Video on Brazilian news site Globo showed people picking up money strewn throughout the streets of the city as well as images of a bank vault with a square-shaped hole in it. The money was reportedly released onto the streets following an explosion of cash machines from the banks.
A military policeman and guard were both shot during the robberies, which included hits on four banks within the city over a two-hour timeframe. Police later seized 10 cars used by the robbers that were found in a cornfield in the neighboring city of Nova Veneza.
This morning, Mayor Salvaro tweeted out “The security agencies are still mobilized and working to arrest the criminals involved in the assault this morning. Lives were preserved in Criciúma! Now, the city begins, little by little, to return to normal. And let’s get to work!”
Police have so far arrested four suspects and recovered close to 810,000 reais ($152,660 USD) from the ground in the area where the cash machines exploded.