Criminals used a fake cash-in-transit van to make off with more than €60,000 from a Dublin cash-and-carry before they crashed the vehicle and set it on fire.
The two criminals duped staff by pretending to be employees of the G4S security company.
Our exclusive CCTV images show the crime being carried out at the food wholesaler's premises on Monday afternoon.
The incident happened at around 2.30pm at the Merrywell Business Park in the Ballymount Industrial Estate.
There was no reason for suspicion until Wednesday evening when it was discovered that more than €60,000 collected on the day had not been deposited in the company's bank account.
By that stage, gardai had found a burned-out replica G4S Mercedes Sprinter van that had had its chassis number drilled off and even had a fake cash hatch in the back
The van sported a G4S logo and was painted in the company colours. It even had similar yellow markings along its side.
Gardai believe the criminals crashed it into a ditch after the robbery and decided to burn it when they could not get it restarted.
It is believed that the plan was to hide the van in a compound controlled by a notorious Traveller gang boss. It was then going to be used in other cash thefts in the busy retail weeks leading up to Christmas.
The genuine G4S security van that was scheduled to collect the money arrived at the premises shortly after 5pm.
The G4S team were told by store workers that a van had arrived earlier that day to collect the five-figure sum.
A cash-and-carry worker told the Herald that the raiders produced "legitimate-looking" documentation when they arrived, and wore badges similar to the identification carried by G4S workers.
"They came in shortly after 2pm. It's a routine thing. Every day between a certain time they arrive and collect the money," the worker said.
"They had the documentation with them that's normally given to us to fill out for the cash collection.
"We were in touch with the security company the following day, but were told that the money had not yet been deposited.
"There could normally be a delay so it wasn't such an issue, but when we contacted G4S on Wednesday and realised that the transaction had not been completed, we realised there was a problem.
It was the second time in a month that the wholesaler had been targeted in a robbery. Last month, four masked thugs smashed their way into the premises at night while they were empty. They made their way to an upstairs office where they broke through the glass window and eventually made off with around €5,000 in cash.
Sources said that this week's daring cash-in-transit theft is not linked to the earlier raid, and the chief suspects are a gang led by a Traveller criminal from Finglas.
The thug, who is in his mid-40s, was previously hit with a massive bill by the Criminal Assets Bureau and has served several jail sentences.
"This was a relatively sophisticated and well-planned crime," a source told the Herald.
"Last year, a gang tried to carry out a couple of thefts in a similar fashion to this one in Dun Laoghaire and Walkinstown but were unsuccessful, mainly because their efforts were far more amateur.
"The suspicion is that if this gang had not crashed the van a number of hours after carrying out the crime, they would have continued to attempt to hit more business in the days ahead."