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Heist nets robbers $2 million

PITTSBURGH -- Two men wearing trench coats, dark felt hats and aviator-type glasses posed as FBI agents and stole more than $2 million from a Purolator Armored Inc. office without even flashing a gun.

The men, who remained at large Thursday, apparently got into the office by ducking under a closing garage door, saying they were from the FBI and catching a security officer off guard.

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The FBI said the exact amount of money taken in the St. Patrick's Day heist would not be known until Purolator completed an audit, but confirmed the take was more than $2 million.

The robbery was said to be the largest in the Pittsburgh area's history and a $100,000 reward was offered by Purolator.

FBI agent Paul Kimball said a black man and a white man, dressed in trench coats, dark hats and carrying walkie-talkies, entered the garage at the Purolator office in suburban Brentwood as a company truck left to make a delivery about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The men ducked under the descending overhead door to get into the building.

The guard was the only person in the office and the men flashed some type of identification, saying they were from the FBI. Neither robber displayed a weapon, the guard told police.

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'They said they were FBI agents and they heard Purolator was going to be hit,' said Brentwood Police Chief Robert Hartshorn.

The two men quickly overpowered the guard, took his keys, shotgun and revolver. They handcuffed him, placed tape over his mouth and his eyeglasses and made him lie on the floor.

They used the keys to enter a vault area and carried out about 26 bags filled with cash. Kimball said the money taken 'had already been counted and readied for delivery' to banks in western Pennsylvania.

The robbers left behind an undetermined amount of cash in the vault, Kimball said.

During the robbery, the men talked over the walkie-talkies with at least one person outside the garage, Kimball said. A vehicle was driven into the garage, and the money placed inside.

After the robbers left, the handcuffed guard worked his way to a telephone and, with his back to the instrument, 'dialed an eight-digit number and told whoever answered to contact the Brentwood police,' Kimball said.

Police and Purolator officials reached the robbery scene about 1 a.m.

The FBI said the area's previous largest robbery occurred in March 1979 and also involved Purolator. Approximately $666,000 was taken from a Purolator van in that robbery in nearby New Kensington. One man was convicted in the heist and some of the money was recovered, the FBI said.

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The largest robbery in U.S. history occurred when $5.8 million in cash and jewels was stolen at a Lufthansa cargo facility at New York's Kennedy Airport by six armed men Dec. 11, 1978.

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