(Canadian OH&S News) — Two masked men escaped with an unconfirmed amount of money in Brossard, a southern suburb of Montreal, after robbing an armoured truck during the evening of Aug. 21.
The robbery took place at a Royal Bank of Canada branch, where two armed guards — employees of security company Garda — were stationed with the truck, according to information from the Longueuil Police. The two robbers, wearing Halloween masks, approached the guards at around 11:00 p.m., attacked the guards with pepper spray and disarmed them. The guards were sent to the hospital, but released shortly afterwards.
Capt. Nancy Colagiacomo, a spokesperson for the police, could not specify the amount of money that the masked men had stolen — media reports claimed it was $431,000 — but confirmed that it was “a substantial amount.” She added that the guards’ firearms were still missing.
Police later found and seized an abandoned grey Dodge Caravan, with its back doors left open, near Boulevard Tashereau and Boulevard de Rome. The minivan had been reported stolen in April, although police have yet to determine whether this vehicle was involved in the robbery. “We’re having our expert forensic team work on the vehicle,” said Colagiacomo.
“Right now, we’re still collecting all the evidence around the area. We’re going through the merchants close by to see if there’s any kind of possibility of cameras,” she explained, referring to security video. “I don’t know if they’re going to turn out some images or not, but we do know that there are merchants in that area that do have cameras.”
Garda has declined to comment to the media about the incident. “There are no further comments that we can make about the robbery at this time,” a media rep with the company told COHSN, “because it’s an ongoing investigation.”
Union wants three-person crews
The day after the robbery, national union Unifor put out a press release demanding improvement to safety standards for armoured car guards — especially regarding the required number of guards per vehicle. Over the last decade, the organization claimed, 70 per cent of robbed armoured cars had employed only two guards. Leaders with Unifor had already met with Mark Potter, federal director general of policing policy, in June to discuss safety issues in the sector.
“They have to look at the safety aspect of two-man crews. That’s the biggest hurdle there is,” Unifor national representative Mike Armstrong told COHSN. “The bad guys know they have a two-man crew. They’re targeted. A third guy in the truck would have driven away with that truck.”
Armstrong added that armoured vehicle robberies had increased in recent years, due to significant deficiencies in safety standards for the security profession. “We’ve really got to look at defensive training, health and safety, and a whole range of things should be done to this industry,” he said. “When you’re involved with people with guns and a large amount of money, things are going to happen.”
Armstrong pointed out that many attempted armoured car robberies in Canada go unreported. “These guys will scout out that certain one, that truck and that crew, learn their tendencies for weeks on end, and then they strike at the appropriate time. But not every robbery is successful.” He speculated that part of the problem may be cost-cutting at security firms, using the example of a bank that decided to employ two workers for $50 versus $75 for three employees.
“And it’s sad, because it’s lowering the safety standards and that’s putting people’s lives at risk,” Armstrong said.
The Brossard incident was not the first armoured vehicle robbery that the Longueuil Police had faced, according to Colagiacomo. “I do know that we had one as recent as February 2014,” she said.