Crete police under investigation

Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras yesterday ordered police chiefs to conduct an internal investigation into the theft of 200,000 euros in cash from a bank near Hania on Monday morning, as sources indicated that only one trainee officer was on duty in the area at the time of the robbery. The head of the Greek Police (ELAS), Anastassios Dimoschakis, initiated a probe into possible negligence on behalf of officers in Crete after robbers used a bulldozer to smash their way into a branch of ATEbank in the village of Kalives and stole a safe containing the cash. The incident, which took place at 4.30 a.m., has proved embarrassing for the police, who appeared unprepared and understaffed to prevent the raid or chase the robbers. A patrol car that had its tires shot out by the thieves as it approached the bank was the only resistance provided by authorities. Sources told Kathimerini that the officer driving the vehicle was a trainee who did not have any backup. High-ranking officers and officials at the Public Order Ministry are also concerned by the apparent rise in crime in western Crete, which the police seems unable to combat. Dimoschakis has assigned the probe to the general inspector for southern Greece, Vassilis Tsiatouras, who flew to Crete yesterday. In a statement, the Public Order Ministry said that he would be investigating the «organizational planning» by officers on the island to fight crime and the «level of operational readiness and effectiveness» in reacting to Monday’s theft. Police sources said that at least 10 people were probably involved in the heist but officers said that CCTV footage from the bank is not likely to be helpful in tracking down any of the thieves as the suspects destroyed the camera when they broke into the bank. Officers discovered yesterday that the small truck used by the robbers to flee the scene had been stolen from a used-car dealership near Rethymnon. The vehicle was found burned out.