Thieves dig 25-ft tun­nel to loot bank lock­ers

The Hitavada - - FRONT PAGE -

ROB­BERS dug a 25-feet tun­nel to sneak into the Bank of Bar­oda’s Juina­gar Branch here and re­port­edly es­caped with Rs 1 crore in cash and valu­ables from at least 30 safe boxes, po­lice said on Mon­day.

Ac­cord­ing to a po­lice of­fi­cial, the Hol­ly­wood film style rob­bery may have taken place dur­ing the week­end hol­i­day but came to light when the branch opened on Mon­day morn­ing. In­ves­ti­ga­tors said the tun­nel was dug from an ad­join­ing shop out­side the bank’s store room, which houses pri­vate lock­ers rented out to peo­ple for safe­keep­ing of valu­able and doc­u­ments.

How­ever, the rob­bers could not break open the main safe hous­ing the bank’s cash re­serves.

The rob­bery - rem­i­nis­cent of the Bri­tishHol­ly­wood flick “The Bank Job” - cre­ated a sen­sa­tion and hun­dreds of lo­cals gath­ered there to see the un­fold­ing drama.

A po­lice of­fi­cial said it could be the work of ex­pert crim­i­nals and a new mo­dus operandi had been re­vealed which may need to be fac­tored in by se­cu­rity agen­cies man­ning such banks.

“The thieves had rented out the ad­join­ing shop since May 2017. The cul­prits have dug an un­der­ground tun­nel of 25 feet long to the locker room of the bank,” Navi Mum­bai Po­lice Com­mis­sioner He­mant Na­grale said in a brief state­ment.

He added that 30 of the bank safe’s 225 lock­ers had been bro­ken into and the rob­bers es­caped with the loot, the value of which is yet to be as­cer­tained.

Na­grale said the po­lice had found some leads and teams of of­fi­cers and men were work­ing on them.

Though the loss could run into sev­eral crores of ru­pees, the process of as­sess­ment was still on. The bank had called all its cus­tomers and was ver­i­fy­ing other records.

De­spite re­peated at­tempts, Bank Of Bar­oda of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment on the in­ci­dent or the losses suf­fered by the branch.

The rob­bery came to light around 11 a.m. when a cus­tomer ap­proached the bank to op­er­ate his locker and was es­corted to the safe vault by a staffer.

They were shocked to see many lock­ers bro­ken open and also the tun­nel through which the thieves had en­tered and ex­ited.

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