Bieber heist an 'inside job'

14 May 2013 - 02:44 By GRAEME HOSKEN and KATHARINE CHILD

A cash heist that took place after the Justin Bieber concert at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday night was an inside job, officials and police officers gathering evidence at the scene said yesterday.

On Monday morning - after back-to-back concerts featuring Bieber and Bon Jovi - thieves used ropes and specialised equipment to drill through a bathroom roof into a section of the stadium.

Once inside, they drilled through the brick wall of a safe.

Millions were stolen from a company renting space from Stadium Management to sell refreshments to 150000 concert-goers.

Stadium Management CEO Jacques Grobbelaar said though 4000 people were brought in to manage Sunday's concert - from security guards to ushers and production staff - police had narrowed down the list of suspects to 60 to 70 people. In a few days, the list will be even shorter , he said.

"I can't see this as an external operation. Even I'm not entirely sure of where the strongroom in which the money was stored is. It was chosen because it is out of eyeshot," he said.

One of the police officers described the safe as "incredibly secure".

"It is not something you walk up to and say: 'Open sesame'. It's state-of-the-art with specialised key-codes. The only way to crack these kind of safes is with specialised tools or, in this case, angle- grinders."

"Given that there was no major construction work taking place, one needs to ask how they got the tools into the stadium, past all the guards and the security cameras, virtually leaving no trace."

Another officer involved in the investigation said: "It is clear they knew what they were doing. They had time and all the equipment, from the specialised ropes, climbing equipment and the necessary tools to bash down the walls."

He also said the thieves knew which walls to drill through.

"There are signs that they had inside help and were given assistance in terms of blueprints and information on which walls to specifically target for knocking holes through."

The officer added that although the robbers had been "incredibly" meticulous in their planning, they had left several clues behind that pointed to their possible identities.

"We are not there yet, but we are definitely closer."

Questions are being asked about why the money was not counted and collected by cash-in-transit companies on the night, as is usually the case at large events.

One top executive, who asked not to be named, said: "Usually if large sums of money are to be collected from places like stadiums after major events, special arrangements are made well in advance.

"Industry insider information is that this was not done."

Grobbelaar said the company that rented the facilities did not know how much money had been stolen, but Reuters reckoned it would be in the region of R3-million.

Police spokesman Katlego Mogale said the "complainant had locked the money away at 11pm and discovered the safe had been tampered with when she arrived for work the next morning".

The investigation is continuing, Mogale said.

Justin van Wyk, Big Concerts' managing director, the company that brought both Bieber and Bon Jovi, said it could not comment yet owing to concerns for the safety of its staff.