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Theft exposes chinks in ‘safe’ hypermarket

A genius of a thief disabled closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at a hypermarket chain, cleaned out a cash box containing a part of the day’s earnings and rappelled down from the fifth floor of the complex using a rope made of nine saris in what may arguably be Ranchi’s smartest crime in recent times.

Though the amount stolen from Big Bazaar on Main Road between Sunday night and Monday morning maybe a paltry Rs 27,000, the ingenuity involved in the theft has prompted local Chutia police to seek help from the CID, forensic experts and a dog squad.

According to officer-in-charge of Chutia Anil Kumar, the incident came to light around 10am, when some employees reached the market and noticed the improvised rope. They later found the cash missing from the locker on the fifth floor and the terrace door ajar.

Kumar admitted that the theft at a market complex like Big Bazaar was indeed a question of security in the capital and hence, they decided to call in crime detection experts.

“The market is well fortified. Four guards remain posted at the main entrance day and night. Besides, there are CCTV cameras installed at strategic locations. Still, it has turned to be vulnerable. So, we are taking help from CID and forensic professionals, besides sniffer dogs to crack the case,” he said.

The officer maintained that though the thief had managed to disable the camera traps, they had chanced upon some video footage, which suggested that the intruder belonged to the age group of 20-25 years. His complete identity, however, remained concealed in a balaclava (monkey cap).

“We have begun investigations and also spotted footprints. Preliminary probe indicates that the thief had a fair idea of the market’s map. He perhaps remained holed up inside till all shops downed shutters. After everybody left, he came out of his hiding, bagged the cash and escaped through the terrace. The incident may have taken place anytime between 9.30pm yesterday and 10am today,” the OC attempted to reconstruct the crime.

An FIR has been registered at Chutia police station on the statement of store manager Satyajeet Khan.

The theft, meanwhile, took a toll on Monday’s business with shops remaining closed till 5pm. “I came to do some grocery shopping in the afternoon, but the market was closed. More than 400 employees were standing outside,” said I.K. Tikwani, a customer from Morabadi.

Lalit Kumar, commercial manager of Big Bazaar that is run by the Future Group, said entry was restricted because police were collecting evidence from the crime scene.

This is not the first time the retail giant has hogged headlines ever since it made its foray in Ranchi four and a half years ago. On August 31, 2008, two bombs were found in the complex, which were later defused.