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Swipe card & take ATM key

Burdwan, Jan. 14: A marine engineering teacher noticed “two keys” at a State Bank of India ATM whose hood came loose when he tried to withdraw money in Burdwan town this afternoon.

Tuhin Subhra Mondal, a teacher at Marine Engineering and Research Institute in Calcutta’s Taratala who has a house in Burdwan, alerted police, who said the keys were to the hood of the ATM and the vault. The SBI official supervising ATMs in Burdwan, however, said the vault opened with a password, not a key.

Burdwan police chief S.M.H. Meerza said the personnel of the private agency that filled up SBI ATMs in Burdwan town had left the two keys hanging.

Mondal, who had gone to the ATM kiosk at Nababhat in Burdwan town, said: “I had visited the booth around 1pm but there was no cash in the ATM. I went there again at 3.07pm with my father. While I was typing the password, I heard a key fall. The hood of the machine came loose and I saw another key hanging inside. I came out and told my father about it.”

Mondal informed the owner of a timber store next to the kiosk. “He told me the machine had been filled up a few minutes ago. I got nervous. I thought the ATM could be looted. Even though there was a CCTV camera inside the kiosk, robbers could have fled with the cash. I called up a friend in Burdwan town and he informed the police,” he said.

A team of policemen arrived within half an hour and informed bank officials. “I handed over the key to the police, signed the seizure list, took a copy and left for Calcutta,” Mondal said.

Meerza said the service supervisor of the agency hired to feed cash into the ATMs came to the kiosk and “admitted that it was their mistake”.

“He told the police that one of the employees had left the keys there. Inspector Dilip Ganguly handed over the keys to the service supervisor,” Meerza said.

He said no one from the bank came to the kiosk after the incident. “In the past two months, five incidents of attempted theft of cash from ATMs have been reported in Burdwan. I suspect foul play in today’s incident,” Meerza said.

The SBI official looking after ATMs in Burdwan town denied the allegation that no one from the bank had gone to the spot. “I went there after being informed by the police. Two keys could not have been found. Only the key to the hood of the machine was found. The vault does not have a key as it is opened with a password. Apart from me, only the service supervisor knows the password,” he said.

A senior official of another bank said ATM vaults were password-protected.

The Burdwan SBI official denied the claim that the ATM at Nababhat was filled up today. “Three days ago, Rs 20 lakh was fed into the ATM. I can’t say how much cash it had today,” he said.