Gang grabs €1.5m of gold dust in motorway raid
French police are hunting four men suspected of stealing gold dust worth an estimated €1.5m from an armoured truck before setting cars ablaze near a major motorway and fleeing.
The suspects, operating in multiple cars, surrounded the truck and forced it off the A6 highway between Paris and Lyon, a national gendarme service spokesman and a judicial official said.
They then seized the gold, locked the two delivery men in the back of the truck, and set one of their own cars on fire before fleeing, the spokesman said.
He said the flames spread to three cars nearby and threatened to engulf the truck as well, but local police intervened thanks to a tip-off from a witness and rescued the two men in time.
The other cars were unoccupied, the judicial official said.
Police vehicles and a helicopter searched the surrounding fields and forests near the south-eastern town of Dardilly, the spokesman said.
Scientific police studied the charred remains of the cars and the empty truck, operated by security company Loomis.
While France occasionally sees big jewel thefts and has seen a couple of high-profile highway robberies, it is rare to see a large-scale gold robbery, gendarmes said.
The judicial official said about 70kg of gold dust was stolen. He said it appeared to be an organised crime gang, but said the identities of the attackers was unclear.
He would not release details about who owned the gold dust or where it had been headed.