The Big Heist - Slovenia's great robbery sends shockwaves through nation

This past week one of Slovenia's most trusted banks fell victim to the greatest robbery in the country's history. The heist was carried out under the cover of night and it was violent although no one was killed. The robbery has sent shockwaves through the nation.

What was supposed to be a quiet four-day weekend in Slovenia was anything but after at least three thieves broke into the SKB bank in Ljubljana and pulled-off the biggest heist in Slovenian history. The thieves couldn't have picked a better time. They entered on the night of the 31st to the 1st, when the rest of the country was peacefully enjoying the holidays. After subduing and then tying up two security guards, the thieves entered an enclosed area containing nearly 5,000 private safe boxes. In the next seven hours, they cracked open 420 of them, emptying them of all of their contents. The shocking details only emerged the next morning. Above all, people were baffled that the thieves managed to go about their business for such a long time undisturbed.

SKB bank, a Slovenian unit of France's Societe Generale, announced that it would compensate every victim with two million Slovenian tolars (roughly eight thousand euros). Since customers did not need to declare what they kept in the safes, it's nearly impossible to put an exact value on the goods lost. The police immediately launched an aggressive investigation. The head of the criminal investigations unit of the Ljubljana police department, Drago Menegalija:

"Many police officers are involved in this investigation. More than 50 forensics experts are working on the case, along with other police staff that will be aiding in the investigation. The case is being intensively pursued at the moment. It's hard to tell how long it will take. This is the first time a robbery of this sort has been carried out. We're very committed to solving it, because we know that it hurt and affected a lot of people."

For some of those affected, there was anger against both SKB and their lackluster security. One of the victims had this to say:

"Our beloved Slovenia should ban private safes in all its banks, and especially in SKB. We've lost all our trust in them. It's also an issue because there was no cooperation between security and police, which is a shame for such a small country. SKB is now offering 2 million tolars in compensation, but who had that in their safe - nobody! You keep that at home. In our safe, I was storing family jewels, money and stuff for our children."

The daily newspaper Dnevnik remarked that the case seemed like it belonged in a film. It also noted that even though statistics show that Slovenia is becoming an increasingly safer place to live, high-profile cases like this were contributing to a drop in the public's perception of their own safety. In more ways than one, the effects of the robbery are difficult to measure. In the meantime, the hunt for Slovenia's record-making thieves continues at full pace.