Cyprus Mail

‘Bank box bandit’ released on lack of evidence

By George Psyllides

A 36-year-old man held in connection with the theft of some €500,000 in cash and jewellery from safety deposit boxes in two banks was released on Friday after prosecutors judged there was not enough evidence to charge him.

Marios Loizou, an unemployed sign maker, was arrested along with his wife, 32, on suspicion of stealing around €490,000 in cash and €10,000 worth of jewellery from safety deposit boxes at Bank of Cyprus and Solidarity co-op bank in Larnaca.

His wife’s brother, 28, was also arrested in connection with the case. Both had been released earlier.

Police said on Friday that the Attorney-general’s office had judged there was not enough evidence to charge the suspect so they were forced to let him go.

A Larnaca police spokesman said the investigation into the case continued. It is understood that authorities are having difficulty substantiating the amounts of cash that the holders claimed had been stolen from their boxes.

Police said the thefts took place between March 2015 and January this year.

Authorities believe the break-ins and thefts occurred when the branches were open and were carried out by a person who had access to the area.

Loizou was the only individual from the list of customers who had boxes at the co-op and Bank of Cyprus.

There were no security cameras in the rooms where the safety deposits are stored. Customers were left alone while accessing their boxes.

According to police, when the 36-year-old suspect accessed his safety deposit, he would request to remain for twice the amount of time other clients spent – around 20 minutes – instead of ten and always had two bags with him.

His visits coincided with the period the thefts took place, police said.

The perpetrator opened the boxes using a special home-made tool, which left little or no sign on the outside of the box.

According to police, during the period the thefts took place, the suspect had expressed interest in buying a boat worth €400,000 and to invest €333,000 in an aircraft recycling business. He was also looking to open a printing service and manage a Japanese restaurant in Nicosia.

Authorities have so far seized property and cash worth €200,000 found in the suspect’s possession.


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