Off-Duty Officer Foils Armored Car Robbery, FBI Says

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) - An off-duty plainclothes police officer foiled a plot to steal $900,000 from an armored car Wednesday, according to the FBI and local police.

Boardman police officer Steve Riwniak stopped at a local McDonalds for a cup of coffee on his way to work and saw a man in plain clothes get out of a sport utility vehicle and into a Loomis armored car, according to FBI spokesman John Kane.

Riwniak knew that it was unusual to have a person out of uniform in an armored car, and took down the license number of the SUV.

Robin Lees, a spokesman for the Youngstown police department said it appears the robbers bound the Loomis guards with duct tape, drove into Youngstown and transferred the cash from the armored car to the SUV, then drove off.

An hour later, two Loomis employees returned to their headquarters to report their truck had been hijacked and $900,000 had been stolen.

Boardman and Youngstown police tracked the license number Riwniak had copied down to a Youngstown address, where they found two men and nearly all the money. A third suspect who works for Loomis was arrested later in the day.

"It looks like as of this point all but about $2,500 has been recovered," Kane said. "Most of the money was still in the sealed cases that are used for ATM machines."

"It looks like this was an inside job," he said.

Boardman Police have arrested Michael Green, 24, a Loomis employee; Charles Anderson, 44; and Anthony Simmons, 34, in connection with the robbery, said Chief Jeffrey Patterson.

The three will be charged Thursday on state robbery and kidnapping charges, Patterson said, and Kane said they are likely to face federal charges as well. Once federal charges are filed, the state charges would probably be dropped, Patterson said.

Patterson said the three men are in custody and have not yet named an attorney.

A man answering the phone at the Youngstown Loomis office would not give his name and said the company has no comment.

"We are not the heroes here," said Kane. "If it wasn't for his (Riwniak's) police work, we wouldn't be having this conversation. We'd still be out looking for these guys."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)