Robber in $8M Heist Found in Perm Forest

A Sberbank security guard accused of stealing a record 250 million rubles ($8 million) after holding up his own armored truck has been captured in an underground hideout in a Perm forest, police said Wednesday.

The suspect, Alexander Shurman, was detained Tuesday and led police to four bags containing about 230 million rubles ($7.4 million) buried near his hideout, police spokesman Yevgeny Gorbachev said by telephone.

Police earlier seized 9 million rubles from Shurman's wife, Yelena, and believe that his father-in-law, Rashid Sulemzhanov, hid another 1 million rubles. Both his wife and father-in-law were detained this week.

Gorbachev said he expected that remaining 10 million rubles would be recovered soon.

Shurman, 36, was transporting cash for Sberbank with two other guards through a Perm forest last Thursday when he brandished a Kalashnikov assault rifle and forced them to stop, police said. Shurman told the guards that he had nothing to lose because he had AIDS and was divorcing his wife. He then transferred 250 million rubles to a waiting car and disappeared, police said.

The driver of the escape car is also in custody, Gorbachev said.

He said a court would decide Thursday whether to keep Shurman and the driver behind bars.

The wife will be released because of her parental duties, he said. The couple has a small child who is staying with grandparents.

Four other friends of Shurman are suspects in the case, police said. The suspects have not been questioned yet by police.

Regional authorities had posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to Shurman's arrest, and the head of the Perm police force, Yury Gorlov, said Wednesday that the police officer who found the hideout, Vladimir Boyarshinov, might be entitled to the money.

More than 50 police officers were involved in the hunt for Shurman, RIA-Novosti reported.

Gorlov said the robbery raises questions about the competence of Sberbank's security and the professionalism of the armored car guards who were on duty that day.

A police source told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspapers that Sberbank cut the salaries of its guards last month.

"Carrying huge sums daily and having difficulty making ends meet -- anyone would go nuts," the source said.

Police, however, believe that Shurman started organizing the robbery two years ago because of the complexity of the plans, including the digging of the underground hideout and his large group of accomplices.