Thieves use excavator like a can opener to steal $2.6M in on-highway armored van heist

van ripped open by excavatorsThough we aren’t even a week into the new year, a group of thieves in Italy appears to have pulled off what will likely be the most brazen crime of the year, if not the last 10 years, stealing a reported €2.3 million ($2.6 million) in broad daylight and in the middle of a highway.

According to the Telegraph, an armored van left the city of Bari on Wednesday carrying pension money that was to be distributed to postal workers in the nearby town of Matera.

However, the van was forced to stop when it encountered two work trucks blocking the highway that had been set on fire. The trucks were accompanied by two excavators which the thieves then used “like can openers,” Reuters says, to tear open the vans and gain access to the cash inside.

Translating from Italian reports, Jalopnik says that the group of thieves consisted of “at least four to five people, masked and armed with submachine guns.”

Loot in hand, the thieves made their getaway in “high-powered cars.”

Traffic on the highway was blocked for several hours, the Telegraph reports, as police investigated the scene and removed the burned vehicles. They are still searching for the perpetrators.