Bhubaneswar, Oct. 9: Barely 12 days after the daredevil bank robbery at the UCO Bank in Rourkela, armed criminals struck at its Baripada branch today and decamped with Rs 34.71 lakh.
Again, the lack of guards made the task of criminals easier.
The six armed dacoits, who spoke in Hindi and Bengali, reached the bank at 10.30am, said eyewitnesses of the dacoity today.
Minutes after the bank opened for the day, the criminals arrived in the guise of customers, roughed up the bank staff as well as the customers and snatched their cell phones away.
The dacoits, thereafter, snatched a set of the treasury keys from the cashier of the bank on gunpoint. The treasury, however, opens with two keys and the other one was with the manager of the bank.
The gang members, therefore, had to wait for the manager to arrive. As soon as the manager of the bank walked in, the criminals snatched the second key from him.
They pulled down the shutters of the bank before decamping with the booty, but no one suspected anything was amiss. The public came to the rescue of the customers locked inside the bank after they cried for help.
“The dacoits were inside the bank for about 20 minutes. Yet no one downstairs came to know about the heist. The hawkers on the ground floor, too, were unaware of the incident,” said Mayurbhanj superintendent of police Sanjay Singh.
“We suspect it to be the handiwork of an inter-state gang and have alerted the police of neighbouring states. The gang seems to have escaped by road,” Singh said.
Mayurbhanj district shares its borders with Bengal and Jharkhand.
Even though inter-state bank robbery gangs seem to be active in Orissa, the bank at Baripada, too, had no security personnel on duty.
Incidentally, branches of the UCO Bank have been the targets in the two recent cases of bank dacoity in the state.
Earlier, in 2001, Rs 9.20 lakh had been looted from the UCO Bank branch at Rourkela.
On June 1, the Bagedia branch of the bank in Angul district was looted.
The booty then was Rs 2.82 lakh.