Six-figure sum stolen in Casino di Venezia heist
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Six-figure sum stolen in Casino di Venezia heist

A six-figure sum was stolen last night by a gang of at least five hooded and armed persons who raided the Casino di Venezia at the Vittoriosa Waterfront.

The police, who together with the Armed Forces of Malta, were still looking for the thieves late last night, said nobody was injured in the hold-up.

The exact amount of the haul was still unknown.

The heist took place just after 7.15 p.m. when the gang walked into the casino and one of them addressed the receptionist in Maltese, sources said.

Information about how the money was in fact taken out was still sketchy last night.

The thieves left the place in a white Pajero, which was found shortly after submerged in an inlet at the far end of the waterfront.

Two anglers are known to have told the police that they saw a group of men dump the vehicle into the sea and escape in a small white boat with a canopy.

At about 7.50 p.m., the police received a report that a small white boat was seen sailing out of the port at speed. By this time, an air, land and sea search had been launched, focusing mainly on coastal areas. This involved police cars, a helicopter and patrol boats.

As the search continued in various parts of the island, investigators questioned the casino's employees and patrons and viewed the images captured by a number of security cameras in the building and along the waterfront.

Soon after the hold-up, a staff photographer of The Times, who was among the first journalists to arrive on site, was manhandled by a group of casino employees, possibly security staff.

He was pushed as he approached the main entrance to the casino and ended up on the ground.

A number of police officers intervened and even helped the photographer to his feet.

The photographer later went to the Paola health centre, where he was examined for bruises and grazes on his face and head and was certified to be slightly injured, save complications.

A report was lodged at the Cospicua police station.

kbugeja@timesofmalta.com

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