Thieves got away with more than £1m (€1.5m) in alcohol, tobacco and electrical equipment after holding staff hostage at a warehouse, it emerged today.
A gang of seven men, two of them armed, spent four hours clearing shelves before loading the goods on to a 40-foot articulated truck.
The robbery at the Makro warehouse near Dunmurry, in Belfast, was one of the biggest of its type in Northern Ireland for a number of years.
Chief Superintendent Gerry Murray said: “It was very, very well organised. These people knew exactly what they were doing.”
None of the staff was harmed.
The gang, all wearing stocking masks, struck as staff changed over at the end of a 12-hour shift.
Up to five were locked in the staff canteen, but one was ordered to identify certain areas of the warehouse where the alcohol, cigarettes, fridges, washing machines and dishwashers were kept.
The lorry left the store and headed towards Belfast, possibly along the M1 motorway.
The staff were eventually freed by firemen who answered an alarm call.
Mr Murray, district commander of Lisburn police, said: “These people had the run of the place to themselves for over four hours. It was an extremely professional operation which required a fair degree of planning.”