Guard Shot, ATM Cash Stolen in Robbery of Armored Van

Jul. 13--West Boca -- Sheriff's detectives worked alongside FBI agents Wednesday morning, combing through an empty armored van for clues that could lead to a gunman who helped pull off a daylight heist.

That gunman, working with at least one other robber, grabbed an armored-van guard outside a convenience store and forced another employee to drive them for about five minutes through areas west of Boca Raton, authorities said.

Before the robbers escaped in a getaway car, the guard had been shot in the left ankle and the contents of the truck, possibly thousands of dollars, were gone.

The guard -- Gustavo Sorzano, 63, of Miami -- was in good condition Wednesday night at West Boca Medical Center.

Police wouldn't say how much cash was stolen.

Sorzano and Kerby Aurelhomme, 20, also of Miami -- couriers for Premium Armored Services -- left the company's office in Davie on Wednesday morning to load ATMs in central and southern Palm Beach County. The Cumberland Farms store at U.S. 441 and Sandalfoot Boulevard was their first stop about 9:15 a.m.

Sorzano was leaving the store when a man shoved a gun at him and forced him into the van, the county Violent Crimes Task Force said.

The gunman ordered Aurelhomme to drive but wasn't told where, task force Lt. Michael Wallace said. Sorzano was shot as the men struggled inside the moving van, Wallace said.

Aurelhomme drove north and then east, pulling into the parking lot of the Village Green Condominiums, 9500 SW Third St. They waited in the lot for the getaway car.

The mood was calm, Wallace and witnesses said.

"It didn't look like they were fighting," said Lauren Sadowski, 40, who said the van backed up for her so she could pull her car out at 9:45 a.m. "I thought they were here to do work. ... I didn't think anything of it."

She said the man police described as the suspect was talking to someone in the van.

It was about 10 minutes later that the pickup car arrived, and the gunman and cash were gone. Police did not release a description of the getaway car.

Investigators said they could not rule out the possibility of an inside job, Wallace said.

Sorzano and Aurelhomme were to fill 20 ATMs on Wednesday. Each holds $1,600 to $4,500, according to TRM Corp., the Portland, Ore.-based ATM provider for Cumberland Farms.

With the robbers -- and the money -- gone, Aurelhomme drove toward U.S. 441 and Sorzano, after being shot, called 911.

"Just about everything was taken," Wallace said.

Sorzano, an employee of Premium Armored Services since 2000, was transported to West Boca Medical Center with minor injuries.

The money is insured, Premium Armored Services spokeswoman Pamela Hoy said from company headquarters in Chicago. Aurelhomme was not an employee of the company but contracted from Homeland Intelligence Protective Services of Miami because PAS is short-staffed, Hoy said. He was unarmed, police said.

"Both these guys worked with money for awhile," said Elier Cruz, chief investigator of the Miami security service. "They're both very trustworthy people."

There are 75 branches of PAS across the country with 2,000 clients including banks, financial centers and credit unions, Hoy said.

The last armed robbery of an armored vehicle in the county was in February 2005 at a Wachovia Bank, 4300 Forest Hill Blvd., west of West Palm Beach. There, a Brinks truck pursued the two robbers, who wore orange construction vests but they escaped in an SUV with three bags of cash.

Investigators initially found no connection between Wednesday's robbery and any unsolved armored-vehicle robberies in South Florida, Wallace said.

"They knew what they were doing," he said.

Anyone with information should call the task force at 561-688-4000, the FBI at 561-833-7517, or Crime Stoppers at 800-458-8477.

Staff Researchers William Lucey and Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.

Jerome Burdi can be reached at jjburdi@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6531.

Copyright (c) 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News. For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.


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