Police have arrested a crew of burglars they believe carried out a series of high-dollar heists in central Israel in recent months, including the armed robbery of a Tiv Ta’am supermarket chain in Rishon Lezion in October 2011, making off with over a million shekels in cash.

The suspects include Lev Novikov, a 31-yearold resident of Samaria who works in missile development in the Israeli arms industry, Yuri Maron, a 30-yearold computer engineer from Holon, and Holon native Michael Reizner, the 31-year-old security guard of the Rishon Lezion Tiv Tam branch.

The crew’s luck began to run out on September 19, when traffic cops doing a routine patrol in the Rishon Lezion industrial district came across a car with counterfeit license plates parked on the side of the road. The driver, Novikov, was unable to explain to police what he was doing at the location or why he had mountain climbing gear in his car. The man was arrested along with another member of the gang who was spotted nearby. The third suspect, Maron, turned himself in shortly thereafter.

The gang’s biggest heist came last October, when they robbed the Tiv Ta’am on a Saturday evening when the registers and safes are typically full after Shabbat.

Wearing masks, they blindfolded two cashiers and made off with a million shekels in cash.

Only a few weeks earlier, at the same location, a security guard reported an attempt by masked men with climbing gear to break into the same building again by way of the roof.

The Shfela subdistrict of the Israel Police has tasked a special investigative team with the case.

Police believe the burglars could be responsible for several additional large-scale robberies of businesses in central Israel in recent years, and they are currently focusing on five specific cases.

On Thursday morning, all three men were brought to the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court where the remand of each suspect was extended until October 9. Both Reizner and Maron have told police that they were together at Reizner’s house at the time of the robbery last October.

Maron faces charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, robbery, armed robbery and accessory to armed robbery, while Reizner faces charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and burglary.

Novikov stands accused of counterfeiting a car’s license plate, conspiracy to commit a crime, burglary and possession of stolen property.

Novikov’s attorney told the court on Thursday that his client is not a trained, hardened criminal; rather that he had foolishly tried to recreate a heist he saw in a movie.

As of Thursday, the police had not held a confrontation between the different suspects, to see if they can catch holes in their stories.

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