www.bloomberg.com Brazil Central Bank Robbed of $67 Million as Thieves Tunnel Under Office Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil's central bank was robbed of 156 million reais ($67.3 million) by thieves who dug a tunnel under the bank's office in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, police said. The 4-meter deep tunnel ran 80 meters (263 feet) under the floor of the bank's concrete, steel-reinforced vault, the federal police said in a statement today. After intruders got into the 500-square meter room over the weekend, they broke into five boxes of bills the bank's circulation group was inspecting for wear and possible replacement, a bank statement said. ``There has to be very clever and detailed preparation to rob a central bank,'' said John Shockey, a retired special assistant with the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency who probed more than 500 shell banks and led prosecutions of financial crimes. ``You're looking at a block and a half of tunneling.'' Commercial banks never have that amount of cash on hand, which is probably why the robbers targeted a central bank, Shockey said. The excavation would require knowing the exact location of the vault inside the bank, which could indicate bank employees were involved, he said. Getting rid of the dirt and debris also would require detailed planning, Shockey said in telephone interview from McLean, Virginia. Inside the vault, the movement sensors and cameras were not activated, police said, so no alarms sounded as the thieves cut through the 1.1-meter thick floor, police said. Fortaleza federal police spokeswoman Sabrina Albuquerque said in a phone interview that investigators estimate the amount taken at 156 million reais. The central bank's statement said it hadn't determined how much money was taken in the robbery, which occurred between 6 p.m. August 5 when the vault was locked and 8 a.m. this morning when it was reopened on schedule. Tons of Cash Police said the tunnel, about 70 centimeters (28 inches) wide, began in a residence, and was shored up with wood and covered in plastic. Inside the tunnel, which was lit with electric lights, police found drills, electric chain saws and a welding torch, the statement said. The stolen funds -- 50-real bills, Brazil's second-highest value bill -- weigh about 3.5 metric tons, the federal police said. ``I never heard anything like this before here in Brazil,'' said Daniel Coradi, president of Engenheiros Financeiros & Consultores in Sao Paulo, a bank consulting firm, who has worked in the banking industry in Brazil since 1978. ``This is the type of thing we see in movies.'' Coradi said the heist is probably the biggest bank robbery in Brazil. Regional Offices Brazilian Central Bank President Henrique Meirelles ordered an inquiry committee be formed to investigate the theft within 30 days, a spokesman said. Paulo Cavalheiro, the bank's auditing director, Alexandre Tombini, the economic studies director, and Afonso Bevilaqua, the bank's chief economist, will lead the investigation, the spokesman said. Fortaleza, a city of about 3 million people, is the capital of Ceara state in northeastern Brazil. The Fortaleza office of the bank is one of nine regional offices that carry out the activities of each department of the bank in each region such as gathering economic data. The offices also manage the supply of currency by collecting and burning worn out bills and distributing new ones.