BEIRUT — Lebanon's Internal Security Forces arrested three people, of Syrian nationality, suspected of stealing $1 million in cash from a private home in October, police announced in a press release Friday.
Lebanon is in the midst of an economic crisis and the national currency has collapsed. Many depositors, whose money has been illegally blocked in banks for three years, have turned instead to storing cash in their homes.
The three people — a man born in 1978, his wife, born in 1988, and a third suspect born in 1999 — who are accused of stealing the contents of a safe belonging to a resident in Mount Lebanon governorate, were apprehended in the Bekaa Valley.
Police said they first arrested one suspect on Nov. 11 in Deir Zeinoun, in Mount Lebanon. They found in his possession LL19 million and $8,600. He had also hidden LL21 million and $28,235 at his parents' home. The couple was arrested in Bar Elias, also in the Bekaa, with $941,378 in their possession. The ISF said they seized a total of $978,213 and more than LL40 million.
One of the suspects, who reportedly works as a janitor near the house where the robbery took place, told police that he spotted the safe during maintenance work near the victim's home. He then suggested to his brother-in-law that they rob it, which they did in early October. The loot was then hidden at the suspect's home and hidden by his wife. The burglars reportedly told the ISF that they spent about $70,000 of the money on a car, furniture, clothes and a wedding.
The money seized was returned to its owner, the ISF statement said, without elaborating further.
Since 2019, Lebanon has descended into an economic crisis. Banks are imposing draconian restrictions, preventing customers from withdrawing their savings, especially in dollars. The local currency has meanwhile lost 95 percent of its value.
Banque du Liban governor Riad Salameh claimed in a Dec. 2020 interview that, in total, people in Lebanon have stashed $10 billion in their homes.
Unable to access their money in dollars, some Lebanese people have resorted to holding up banks, sometimes armed, to claim their savings.