France has new anti-hero: bank robber Tony Musulin
French join up to fan club after security guard pulls audacious robbery without a shot fired
For ten years Tony Musulin worked for the Loomis security firm in France. The 39-year-old had a spotless record and apparently led a dull life. But that all changed on Thursday morning after a routine pick-up from a branch of the Banque de France in Lyon.
Musulin, along with two colleagues, had collected around €11.6m (approximately £10.3m) from the bank before driving to a second bank for another collection. Musulin stayed inside the van while his two assistants disappeared inside; when the pair came out a few minutes later, the van - and Musulin - were nowhere to be seen.
Three hours later the van was found abandoned and lunchtime news bulletins spoke of a heist in which a security guard had been kidnapped. By Friday morning, however, another scenario had emerged. Police now suspected that far from being held hostage by a ruthless gang of robbers, Musulin was secreted in a safe house surrounded by 49 sacks of cash and sporting a very broad smile.
It has since been claimed that Musulin, thought to be acting alone, planned his daylight robbery well, choosing a day when he was the senior of the three guards, and when the money for collection was in new bills of which the bank had no record.
In addition, Musulin had cleared out his own bank accounts and removed any incriminating documents from his modest apartment.
Musulin's colleagues have since spoken of a "rather odd" man, who rarely socialised with them and spent much of his spare time working out at a local gym or moaning about his lot in life. "He found it very unfair that we were badly paid," a colleague explained on national radio. "He said the other day, 'They'll pay - the bank, the bosses. We'll have them'."
One aspect of the case exercising investigators is how a man on a monthly salary of €2,000 was able to buy a €160,000 Ferrari last April. "A modest wage but a big expenditure, obviously it's something that concerns us," said a police spokesman. As for his own bank accounts, which Musulin emptied in the last week of October, police would like to know how they came to contain around €100,000.
Meanwhile, Musulin's crime has touched a revolutionary nerve in the national psyche and his audacity is being lauded on the internet. By Sunday more than 1,500 people had signed up to a 'Tony Musulin fan club' on Facebook with his supporters praising a non-violent robbery for which, even if he is caught, he faces only three to five years in prison.
Others have asked what the difference is between Musulin's crime and that of some of the world's bankers. T-shirts are also for sale on the internet - for €22 - with a picture of Musulin's face above the slogan 'Best Driver of 2009'.
Perhaps the mood of the nation is best summed up by a comment posted on the site of the daily newspaper Le Parisien: "Good move, well pulled off."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Since this item was posted, Tony Musulin handed himself in to police in Monaco on November 16. ·
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