Still on the run after 12 years

IT is 12 years since "Fast" Eddie Maher passed in to criminal folklore as the man who committed the perfect crime – and today police are no nearer catching him.

IT is 12 years since "Fast" Eddie Maher passed in to criminal folklore as the man who committed the perfect crime – and today police are no nearer catching him.

Officers are no longer out there looking for the fugitive security guard whose 15 minutes of cool, calm, calculated villainy made him a millionaire, but left him on the run forever.

Whether Maher today spends much time looking over his shoulder is anyone's guess.

The trail has long since gone cold as far as Suffolk police are concerned – though just one piece of information could still lead them to him.

A police spokeswoman said: "This investigation remains open.

"Anyone who has any information about this matter, particularly information about the whereabouts of Mr Maher, should contact police on 01473 613500."

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What happened to Maher is the source of endless speculation and conversations and everyone has their own theory.

But a stranger question is whether the crime could ever be repeated.

One security expert told The Evening Star that the security vans – supposedly impregnable when Maher made off with the van at Felixstowe – were now much more secure.

"I guess anything is possible, but you would need a lot of information about the workings of a security van – but then people at the time of Maher would have said no-one could have got inside the van," said the man, who works for a leading firm but asked not to be named.

"Security has been improved since that time with new locks, alarms and different systems and procedures.

"The thing which puzzled most people about the Felixstowe theft was why it was not realised that the van was not following its planned route. Although the alarm was not sounded immediately, the tracking device on the van should have been picked up and the route change spotted."

Maher – and his partner Debbie, 27 at the time, and their son Lee, then aged four and now 16 – are most likely in America.

Their daring plan was set in motion just after 9am on the morning of January 22, 1993, when Maher, 37, and a colleague arrived outside Lloyds Bank in Hamilton Road, in the Securicor van.

Maher waited in the van while his colleague went inside to make a delivery. While his colleague – who had no part in the robbery at all – chatted and joked to the bank clerks, Maher made his move, driving away the armoured van.

The ex-fireman and expert locksmith, known to have gambling debts, drove to the seafront, parking in Micklegate Road, where he unloaded the 50 bags, containing £1m in coins, £20 and £10 notes, into a Toyota Previa spacecruiser vehicle with false number plates and which had been stolen earlier in London.

The Toyota was then driven to a car park on the nearby Landguard peninsula. All the money was transferred into a car – and within minutes Maher was on the A14, bound for an airport and the USA.

The Toyota was found abandoned at Landguard with a pair of uniform epaulettes nearby. The getaway car was found torched in Essex.

There was no sign of Maher. His getaway was a complete success because it was some minutes before it was even realised he was missing and 45 minutes before the security van was found.

At that stage, detectives did not even suspect Maher of the robbery and believed he had been taken hostage with the money.

Later police discovered Maher's girlfriend Debbie and son Lee had already booked into a hotel in Boston, USA, before the crime was committed.

The only hope for police is someone who was in on the theft will one day let something slip, or Maher will trip up, or someone will recognise him.