LONDON, Feb 26 (Reuters) Police hunting the gang who stole up to 50 million pounds from a security depot in Kent last week said today the net was closing as they found arms, clothing and transport equipment they believe was used in the heist.
The theft, early on Wednesday, is believed to have been the biggest in the country's history and sparked a huge police manhunt and forensic operation.
Police said items found on Saturday in an abandoned white van not far from the scene of the robbery included bags of cash, balaclava helmets and body armour.
They also said they had earlier found 14 steel cages they believe were used to move the stolen cash.
''These events represent significant developments in the investigation. I am hopeful that we will manage to gain key forensic evidence from these recoveries,'' Kent Assistant Chief Constable, Adrian Leppard, said.
''As I have said before I am confident we will catch those responsible,'' he added.
He said he believed that the mounting pressure from the massive police investigation was starting to panic members of the gang into making mistakes.
''They are under pressure and we want to keep the pressure on. I am very encouraged at this stage by the progress we are making. The net is closing in,'' Leppard said.
Late yesterday police announced that they had arrested two men -- aged 33 and 55 -- in the Maidstone area of southern England on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery. They gave no further details.
Six robbers, posing as police officers, kidnapped Colin Dixon the manager of the security depot in Tonbridge, his wife Lynn and young son Craig to carry out the massive raid.
Depot manager Dixon issued a statement yesterday.
describing what he and his family had endured as the worst night of their lives.
He said his son Craig, who was nine on Friday, was still in deep shock.
Earlier in the day detectives released a new computer- generated image of one of the suspected raiders who abducted Lynn Dixon and her son.
He was aged between 45 and 49, with a sickly complexion. He had thick brown hair, which detectives said could have been a wig, and bushy moustache, which also might have been a fake.
It was the second e-fit to be released. On Friday an image was published of a suspect, about 6ft tall, with a scruffy ginger beard which also might have been false.
Leppard said it was possible the same man was being described in both of the e-fits.
Police have recovered a total of four vehicles which they suspect were involved in the raid and these are now being carefully examined by forensic officers.
They said three other people arrested as part of the inquiry on Thursday were later released.
REUTERS OM RS1609