British Columbia

Brink's employee fights for job after being accused in half-million dollar heist

A Brink’s Canada employee is fighting to get his job back after being accused of masterminding the theft of nearly half a million dollars from one of the security company’s bank customers.

Security company is trying to recoup $463,220 payment to unknown bank after alleged inside job

Brink's Canada is seeking repayment of nearly half a million dollars from an employee accused of using inside information to steal from a bank. The employee is grieving his firing. (Image Source: pixgood)

A Brink's Canada employee is fighting to get his job back after being accused of masterminding the theft of nearly half a million dollars from one of the security company's bank customers.

The $463,220 inside job does not appear to have ever been publicly divulged. Its existence was only revealed through a recently posted labour arbitration decision

Details are murky — and neither Brink's nor the fired employee's union would speak about the robbery, and whether it was reported to police.

But according to the ruling filed in B.C., Brink's paid the money back immediately after the victim bank notified the company that a robbery had occurred making use of "keys, access codes and knowledge of what would trigger a security alert" to steal cash from ATMs. 

Now Brink's is fighting Unifor Local 114, the New Westminster-based union which represents guards, to get its money back from the alleged thief — while the union fights to overturn his firing for "alleged involvement in the robbery and lack of cooperation with the investigation."

Brink's "received correspondence from the bank requesting reimbursement … in the amount of $463,220 relating to ATM thefts that were as a result of unauthorized access to the bank premises by unknown individuals using Brink's credentials," the arbitration decision says.

"[Brink's) paid the bank the full amount requested in exchange for a release from the bank of any liability."

An earlier heist hatched in a bar

The name of the bank and the employee are anonymized, and it's unknown exactly where the robberies occurred. 

B.C.-based arbitrator Mark Brown's decision deals with a preliminary question over whether labour arbitration is the proper venue for Brink's to try to recoup its losses — as opposed to civil court.

This police photograph from an unrelated case shows an upper and lower lock combination to a cash vault at a bank. In an earlier case, a security guard admitted to stealing from safes that provide money to Royal Bank ATMs. (Vancouver police)

The ruling itself provides a window into the security business and a rare occasion in which the people charged with protecting a bank's cash are accused of stealing it instead.

According to the decision, the employee was not on duty when the thefts occurred — but Brink's determined that he had allegedly shared confidential security information with the people who carried out the heist.

The union claimed that Brink's wasn't obliged to pay the money back to the bank, citing a 2005 case that bears a striking similarity to the current situation.

In that case, an Ontario judge found that Intercon Security Ltd. was not vicariously liable for a million dollar theft from Royal Bank.

According to the earlier decision, plans for that heist — which happened in the mid-90s — were hatched in a bar where a security guard revealed to his high school friends that he had access to keys that could help them commit the crime.

The thief had noticed that the bank's security cameras were all pointed at the public areas, but not the rooms containing the safes which hold the money distributed by ATMs. The back of each ATM had two combination dials and a handle. Beside them were two mini-safes that held the combinations to unlock the ATM.

The guard obtained a key from the security firm to enter the Royal Bank at night, where he and a friend managed to extract pieces of paper holding the codes from the mini-safes and then spent hours trying to figure out how to work the combinations.

The thieves spotted an ATM instruction manual stored nearby at the last minute. They then proceeded to commit a total of 10 more robberies before being caught, prosecuted and jailed.

Not authorized to commit thefts

According to the earlier decision, the judge said the security company in that situation wasn't responsible for its employee's actions. They didn't authorize him to commit the thefts. They didn't authorize him to be at the bank after hours and they didn't authorize him to be in possession of the key to the bank.

The former guard in those thefts served four years in jail. The judge noted that he was cagey on information that suggested assistance from another security company employee.

Unifor Local 114 raised the Ontario case in the current situation to claim Brink's didn't have to cover the bank's losses, meaning the security company shouldn't use labour arbitration to claim its money back because the payment was voluntary — not the result of a breach of the union's contract with Brink's. They said Brink's should be suing in civil court.

Brown agreed that Brink's likely could not be held vicariously liable for its employee's theft. 

But he said the contract Brink's signed with the bank obliged Brink's to "defend, indemnify and hold harmless' the bank for any damages caused "by negligence or wilful misconduct of Brink's or its employees."

As such, Brown said he will hear the grievance — but the ruling doesn't say when a final decision will be made.

Brink's Canada is a subsidiary of Brink's incorporated, which is based in Virginia. A media spokesperson did not respond to an email asking for further details about the robbery.

About the Author

Jason Proctor

@proctor_jason

Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and mental health issues in the justice system extensively.

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