Robbers took away Rs 15 lakh and gold coins weighing 20 grams from a bank in Howrah after deactivating the burglar alarm early on Thursday. The gang also took away the central processing unit (CPU) that stored footage from closed-circuit cameras.
Police suspect the robbery to be the handiwork of a gang that had tried to loot a bank at Baganda, 25km from the spot of Thursday’s operation, around two months ago.
“The modus operandi of entering the bank was the same. On both occasions, a gas cutter was used to open the bank’s main entrance. But at Baganda, the robbers had to flee as the emergency alarm went off as soon as they touched the iron chest,” said an officer of Shyampur police station.
The robbers seem to have learnt from their mistake and this time they made sure to unplug the emergency alarm.
Traders and shop owners noticed around 8am that the shutter and collapsible gate of Bank of India’s Sashati branch in Shyampur were open. They immediately alerted the police.
“The robbers spent more than an hour on the ground floor of the bank. They first cut open the shutter and collapsible gate and entered the main lobby where the cash counters are located,” the officer said.
After deactivating the alarm, the robbers headed for a room at the rear where the iron chest was kept. The robbers bore a hole into the chest with the gas cutter. “The multiple locks of the iron chest were intact but there was a big hole on its six-inch-thick iron door. The cash and gold coins were taken out through the hole,” the officer said.
Job done, it was time to ensure that there was no evidence. The robbers identified the CPU connected to the closed-circuit cameras focusing on the vault, the bank’s main entrance and other strategic points inside the office. They unplugged all the wires and took away the CPU.
“This was a smart move. The robbers knew that a CPU connected to closed-circuit cameras stores all video recordings in its hard disc,” said an officer. “Now we have no clue what the robbers looked like or how many raided the bank.”
The manager of the branch, Dhir Singh, said the bank has no private guards at night. “We had requested police to intensify patrol in the area at night. Had their been proper vigil, the incident would not have taken place,” he said.
Sukhendu Heera, the additional superintendent of police, Howrah, however, said, “It is not possible for the police to keep watch all night in areas where banks are located. The bank authorities should appoint guards at night as well to protect public money.”