Securicor offers reward for information after armed raider nets more than £1m

An armed hijacker escaped with more than £1m in cash after ambushing a security van in Sussex yesterday.

The man surprised two Securicor guards standing outside their van near a café in Horsham, West Sussex, in what police described as one of the biggest armed raids of its kind.

During the attack, a male security guard was tied up and forced into the back of the vehicle while his female colleague was bundled into the front.

The gunman then climbed in next to the woman guard and the van sped off in pursuit of a car thought to be driven by the gunman's accomplices. Itstopped in the West Sussex village of Faygate, five miles from the ambush scene, where the man transferred more than £1m in cash from the van to the car, in which he escaped.

Both guards were later taken by ambulance to a hospital in Crawley although it was not clear yesterday whether either of them had been assaulted by the gunman.

A spokesman for Sussex police said: "The male guard who was in the back of the van was under the impression that his female colleague had been assaulted. But it is not yet clear if that was the case." A police helicopter and armed officers combed the area for several hours after the raid while detectives examined the crime scenes. Sussex police said an armed robbery involving such a large amount of cash was "extremely rare".

Yesterday Securicor offered a £100,000 reward for information about the robbery and details leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved.

The police spokesman added: "The van had stopped in Fitzalan Road, Horsham, West Sussex, possibly so the staff could go to the café.

"When they were outside the van, they were approached by a man with a firearm who forced the male guard into the back and the female into the front. He then forced the van to be driven five miles down the road to Faygate Lane in the village of Faygate."

Police want anyone who might have information about the robbery, which happened between 9am and 9.30am on Tuesday morning, to contact them as soon as possible.

A spokesman for Securicor said yesterday: "We deplore such incidents and are doing everything possible to assist police with their inquiries.

"The safety of our staff and the public is of paramount importance and we are offering a reward of up to £100,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the attack and for the recovery of the money that was stolen."