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$250,000 REWARD OFFERED IN ROBBERY; INVESTIGATORS SEEK $10.8 MILLION TAKEN FROM ARMORED TRUCK BOUND FOR BUFFALO

Bolstered by a $250,000 reward posted by Lloyds of London, police are continuing their search for bandits who pulled off the daring daylight robbery of $10.8 million in Marine Midland Bank funds from an armored truck on its way from Rochester to Buffalo.

FBI agents and Monroe County authorities said they are paying particular attention to the possibility that the Tuesday morning heist was an "inside job" assisted by someone with knowledge of the cash transfer and the route the truck would be taking.

One of the suspects was wearing a brown uniform much like the uniform worn by guards for the company that owns the armored truck, said G. Robert Langford, special agent in charge of the Buffalo FBI office.

"It's almost impossible to pull off something like this without inside information of some kind," one law enforcement official said.

Detectives and FBI agents got their first break in the case Wednesday afternoon with the recovery of a gray van believed to have been used in the robbery, the biggest theft of cash in the history of Western New York.

The van was found in Monroe County, but police declined to say exactly where it was located, who owned it or what evidence linked it to the holdup.

Meanwhile, the two security guards who were abducted and robbed in the case were questioned at length by police, given polygraph tests and released.

The two are not considered suspects, but have not been ruled out, either, said Lt. Michael Broida of the Monroe County Sheriff's Department.

Broida said he could not discuss the results of the polygraph tests. Tom Ryan, another Sheriff's Department spokesman, said authorities are "skeptical" of some details in guards' story.

"We have not discounted the possibility of an inside job," Broida said.

Seven teams of sheriff's detectives and FBI agents fanned out through the Rochester region to check out about 50 leads from telephone tips. The money, which was being moved from Marine Midland branches in the Rochester area to the Federal Reserve Bank branch in Buffalo -- was stolen about 7:20 a.m. Tuesday from the armored truck operated by the Armored Motor Service of America.

Detectives said the holdup occurred after the two guards, whose names have not been released, stopped at a convenience store in the Rochester suburb of Henrietta to purchase coffee and a submarine sandwich.

While one of the guards was inside the store, a gunman pointed what is believed to have been a 12-gauge shotgun into the gun port -- a modified peephole -- of the steel-armored truck. The guard who was in the truck did not radio for help, police said.

It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the guard to avoid being injured if the holdup man had fired into the gun port, Broida said.

"If the gun was loaded with buckshot, he (the guard) would have been done. It would not have been a safe place to be," Broida said. "If the shotgun was loaded with buckshot, you would have had ricochets all over the place."

The two guards said they were forced to drive to a wooded area near the Rochester Institute of Technology, where they were blindfolded, their wrists bound and left in the truck. The money was loaded into the van, and the robbers escaped.

Reports conflicted on whether the two guards had run afoul of the company's procedures for delivering cash.

Company officials did not return telephone calls Wednesday from The Buffalo News.

The $250,000 Lloyds of London reward was offered during a 3 p.m. news conference in Rochester. The London-based underwriter insured the money.

Lloyds of London requested that information not be given to police, but to Harold or Gregory Smith of Smith International Adjusters, 600 Madison Ave., New York City, at 212-593-9010.

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