During the early morning of 30 August 2021, a group of approximately 20 heavily armed bank robbers staged a major heist that targeted several banks in the southern Brazilian city of Araçatuba, which is located approximately 520 km (310 mi) northwest of the city of São Paulo. The assailants, who had blocked off roads with burning vehicles and placed explosive devices across the city, also tied at least 10 hostages to their getaway vehicles and utilized drones to assist in their escape, according to São Paulo’s military police. At least three people were killed, including one of the suspected bank robbers. Five others sustained various injuries, including a cyclist who suffered serious injuries when one of the explosive devices detonated; at least three others were hospitalized with gunshots wounds. Local officials closed schools and urged residents to stay indoors until all the explosive devices were located. Police officials stated that two suspects have been arrested, and reports indicate that more than 380 police officers are searching for the remaining suspects.

Analyst Comment: This heist follows a pattern of elaborate attacks on banks in Brazil that have been occurring at night, in midsize cities, usually around the end or beginning of the month when banks are believed to have more cash on hand to pay out to people waiting for public benefits. Two similar attacks occurred on consecutive days in December 2020 at separate branches of Banco do Brasil in the cities of Cametá and Criciúma.