Dozens of armed robbers descended on the city overnight, launching an assault on a bank which led to hostages being taken and banknotes scattered across the ground.
Approximately 30 people wearing hoods staged a heist on a bank in Criciúma, Brazil, a city of around 220,000 people, taking control of the streets and leaving two people injured.
Local reports stated that the armed individuals blocked access points into the city, preventing police reinforcements from responding. The robbers reportedly used explosives and fired high-caliber weapons at police.
Clésio Salvaro, the mayor of Criciúma, made an announcement on social media just before 2 a.m. local time, warning citizens to stay home amid reports that the armed robbers had taken over part of the city.
According to the Associated Press, the violent assault began around midnight and lasted approximately two hours.
Multiple people were taken hostage, and shooting and explosions were heard throughout the city overnight. According to Salvaro, the hostages were later released unharmed.
Videos shared on Twitter from Criciúma showed money strewn across the streets, and people scrambling to pick it up.
One Twitter post, written in Portuguese, translates to: “Basically people are in the center of Criciúma picking up the money that fell on the ground!! Unbelievable!!!!!”
Basicamente as pessoas estão no centro de Criciúma catando o dinheiro que caiu no chão!! Inacreditável!!!!! 🤯🤯🤯🤯 pic.twitter.com/ZVglH4Wmhj
— Why Do I Sabotage (@WhyDoISabotage) December 1, 2020
Pictures shared by Brazilian news outlet Globo show a square-shaped hole in a bank vault, and a line of vehicles escaping the scene.
Police have located some of the stolen money, approximately 810,000 reals ($152,660). Authorities also announced that, “So far, four people have been arrested who collected part of the paper bills that were thrown to the ground due to the explosion.”
Citing a military lieutenant, Globo reported that no one was killed in the assault, despite open fire being heard in multiple videos posted to social media. The outlet also reported that a military policeman and one guard were shot.
According to Reuters, Brazil has a long history of bank heists, which have left major lenders struggling with a wave of violent robberies. Criminals in the South American country have reportedly “mastered the use of explosives to access cash.”