Armed raid on a Securicor vehicle 1990

1990, 27 November 0950: Woodhatch an armed robbery on a Securicor vehicle containing in excess of £700.000. As Metropolitan Police Flying Squad officers attempted to make arrests shots were fired and one robber was shot dead and another was wounded in the shoulder. Three men were sent to prison.324

Operation Yamoto: Metropolitan Police PT17 shoot dead an armed robber at Woodhatch, Reigate, called Kenny Baker and another named Arif was wounded during an attempted raid on a Securicor van. Mehmet Arif, was the getaway driver and Kenny Baker was hit in the stomach and face.

At 9.55 am Securicor van with £750,000 on board pulled up on the garage forecourt so the crew could get a coffee. Two minutes later they were attacked by armed robbers in masks. By 9.59 am it was all over following police intervention and the death of Baker. They were first division London villains, caught in the act during an armed robbery at the petrol station.

The Metropolitan Police had the criminal team under observation for some time, and became convinced that they would carry out the armed robbery that morning. The politics were that they did not tell anyone in Surrey. The consequences after the event were "significant discussions" between the Chief Constable and the Met.

The Metropolitan Police team were videoing and photographing the garage from an observation post close to where the Securicor van would call. The raid started and police intervened. Arif was a member of a Turkish Cypriot gang family from south London, major players in armed robbery in and around the capital. The team were convicted and put away for a long time.

Pat Crossan the local sub-divisional commander went to the scene from a divisional meeting at Reigate and Superintendent Bartlett was put in charge of the Firearms Support Team and security. The first task was to get the Surrey Firearms Team to the hospital to put a guard on Arif to ensure that no one rescued him.

Then there was the need to provide accommodation and facilities for the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad and PT17 whose officers were involved and started to arrive at the police station. The Police Complaints Authority was informed, and a representative came to the police station, where the Chief Superintendent David Kenworthy met them and dealt with their requirements.

Police visited the hospital and saw Arif in his hospital bed; a little sullen man, not happy at being there and facing a very long sentence. One of his brothers was locked up at Reigate. Some days later Arif was discharged from hospital, and on a number of occasions the Firearms Support Team protected the court and provided armed officers to ensure they were not rescued.

After some months, at the Old Bailey the whole team were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. The Flying Squad was adjudged to have done a good job.

Ian Robertson: Pat Crossan and I did the full investigation for the original Police Complaints Authority. I will keep it as brief as I can. The job itself was a great bit of policing and intelligence gathering by the Metropolitan Police Robbery Squad and their surveillance people.

The criminals were part of a well known south London family. A lot of Surrey officers who served with the Regional Crime Squad will remember them, the Arifs. They were well into the hijacking of Securicor vehicles, and high value robberies. Also in this particular team was another well known villain, one Kenny Baker, and another called Downer, can not remember his first name. The other two were Mehmet and Dennis Arif.

The squad knew they were going to highjack a Securicor vehicle and the crew, at one of three venues, Woodhatch at Reigate, a Bank in Sussex and a Bank in Kent. The gang knew that the Securicor vehicle always pulled up at the little shopping centre by the garage at the Woodhatch A217 junction. Two crew members would get out and go and buy some sandwiches and coffee.

During the evening prior to the shooting the Squad had watched other members of the team pick up vehicles, stolen some days earlier and hidden up, and take them down to drop off points around Woodhatch. Everything now pointed to the 'strike' being at Woodhatch.

They organised their surveillance teams to follow the Securicor vehicle and plotted up Woodhatch with other people and had the firearms officers from PT17 at various static points around the Woodhatch shops. The best thing they did was to put a police photographer into an Observation Post in one of the buildings opposite the garage forecourt and shops.

The Securicor vehicle eventually arrived at the shops and pulled up at the side of the garage forecourt. To the complete puzzlement of the surveillance officers there was no sign of the villains. Two of the Securicor guards got out of the vehicle (a male and a female) and went to the sandwich shop, got their food and coffees and started to walk back to the Securicor vehicle.

The police were still wondering where the gang was. Just before the crew reached their vehicle, a pick up truck with a tarpaulin over the back pulled onto the garage forecourt. Before anybody knew what was happening the tarpaulin was thrown back and out of the back jumped two of the gang, Baker and Downer. Baker was wearing a Ronald Regan mask. Both were armed with handguns.

They grabbed the two Securicor guards, and took them to the vehicle and forced the other crew members to open the doors. They had been joined by this time by Dennis Arif. Mehmet Arif was driving the pickup and was wearing a black Afro Caribbean wig and his face was also blacked up. Dennis Arif got into the secure rear of the vehicle with one guard and Downer forced the other into the front passenger seat and he himself got into the drivers seat. Baker then went and got into the passenger seat of the pickup. Because of the totally unexpected arrival of the pickup truck the police were to a certain degree back-footed.

The main PT17 unit was too far away for an immediate reaction and the first PT vehicle to pull onto the forecourt was driven by two officers whose original role was to act as a pursuit vehicle in the event of a chase developing. Another police vehicle, again driven by an officer never intended to be play a major part had also reacted and put him self in a position where he could prevent the pickup being driven off the forecourt. (He was unarmed and we recommended for a high commendation).

The first police vehicle pulled up alongside the pickup and the front seat passenger jumped out. He was armed with an MP5 machine pistol. He pulled the passenger door of the pickup open and was confronted by Kenny Baker pointing a hand gun at his face. Mehmet Arif was also armed with a handgun.

The officer fired a shot, the bullet taking Baker low down in his left midriff. He fired a second shot which travelled past Baker and hit Arif travelling along the length of his back between the shoulder blades.

Other PT17 officers had now arrived at the scene. One of them armed with a rifle had run around to the front of the pickup and fired a shot which smashed the front windscreen and hit Baker in the face just below the eye and to the left of his nose. He was already dying however from the bullet in the side. He toppled out of the pickup and fell onto the ground, face downwards. He was still holding the handgun underneath his body so the PT17 officer put his foot on his back to prevent him being able to use it. As it happened he was already dead. Mehmet Arif had rightly concluded the game was up jumped out of the vehicle and spread eagled himself on the ground.

Whilst all this was happening another PT17 officer seeing Downer sitting in the drivers seat of the Securicor vehicle and holding a handgun in the air, fired five shots at him. The window and doors being armoured prevented penetration of the bullets but it frightened the hell out of Downer and like Mehmet he saw the light of day.

Dennis Arif was still however in the back, and also armed. The attack mechanism of the vehicle had activated, locking all the doors and there was no immediate way of access. Believe it or not but another PT17 officer took it upon himself to gain access to the vehicle by climbing through the money access hatch at the rear of the vehicle.

Once inside the officer not only arrested Arif but he was able to unlock a 'roof escape hatch'. That was how they were all eventually removed from the vehicle. It was a very good job by the Police, it had lots more twists and turns, but what I have said is the meat of it.

There were the usual political throwbacks afterwards, like why Surrey was not told there was an armed Metropolitan Police unit in the County, why was Surrey Firearms unit not told, etc., etc. but from a police officers perspective I thought they did a superb job. There were no more hijackings of Securicor's vehicle after that.

Return to main text

324 Annual Report 1990.


Surrey Constabulary badge