- By PHILIP MESSING
Authorities believe the stunning theft of $1.2 million in cash from a Swiss airlines flight was an inside job that happened at JFK — not Zurich — and plan to give lie-detector tests to airport employees, The Post has learned.
The money was among $93million in three crates on the flight, which arrived in New York at 2 p.m. Saturday en route to a federal reserve facility in East Rutherford.
When the crates, which were “sealed” at JFK, got to New Jersey on Monday, authorities noticed that one had “a hole in it the size of which you could put your arm in,” said a source.
They opened it and discovered that the cash was missing.
Investigators think the money was stolen at JFK, and then the thief strategically positioned the crate in the hangar to hide the damage — which likely was caused by a forklift.
“The hole in the crate was on the one side of the crate not visible,” a source said.
The stockpile of cash — a small shipment by international banking standards — was packed in $100,000 bundles. The thief was able to swipe 12 of those packs, sources say.
It was unclear if the bandits ran out of time — or simply didn’t realize they were leaving behind another $92 million.
FBI agents assigned to the Newark field office were preparing to administer polygraph tests to airport workers with direct access to the airplane and the hangar — in a bid to identify deceptive accounts of their comings and goings, the sources said.
A federal law-enforcement official said that the stolen loot was part of an “intra-bank transfer” of money from an American bank with offices in Zurich to a branch or branches here.
The FBI officially would confirm only that the money was bound for New Jersey and that the matter was still under investigation.
In a breach of protocol unrelated to the heist, a Port Authority cop who was supposed to be part of the escort for the cash shipment was never dispatched when it was moved from the hangar to New Jersey by armored truck.
Such a “security escort” is standard operating procedure, although cops are sometimes diverted depending on manpower needs. The PAPD’s Internal Affairs bureau is investigating the matter, a source said.
The theft evoked memories of the sensational $5 million Lufthansa Heist at JFK on Dec. 11, 1978 — which was then the largest cash robbery on American soil.
Burke was suspected of arranging the murders of at least 10 co-conspirators to cover his tracks.