The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Missing cash mystery stumps cops

A cash box, lying unlocked with its contents missing, has flummoxed the city police, even more so because the incident has striking similarities with a case that had them stumped six years ago. For, both the incidents have occurred at insurance offices and fall under the jurisdiction of Hare Street police station.

Last Wednesday, a sum of around Rs 5.5 lakh was found missing from a box in the office of HDFC’s Standard National Insurance at Red Cross Place. Manager Shiv Pattanaik had arranged the money in some packets and kept them in the box on June 23. “The box was right beside his table. When he opened it a week later, he found the packets missing,” said officer-in-charge of Hare Street police station, D.P. Bhattacharya.

During preliminary investigation, the police came to know that Pattanaik had found the box unlocked. “He used to leave his chair frequently. We believe someone among his staff members had taken out the money. We will question all the employees,” said an official of Hare Street police station.

“The incident has several similarities with the one that had happened six years ago in the office of National Insurance Company (NIC) at BBD Bag, where a leather bag containing the staff salary of Rs 2.27 lakh in 54 brown packets had disappeared from an almirah,” said a police official.

First, the local police had probed the case, but later the detective department of the city police took over the investigation. But all their efforts to crack the baffling case proved futile. The first phase of investigation — on how the money disappeared — had ended with the case file being consigned to a dusty heap of records.

But to the astonishment of the investigators, the bag had resurfaced five years later with the cash in it intact.

Though fortune had favoured National Insurance Company last year, when its officers stumbled upon the briefcase lying at the same spot, officials probing the HDFC case don’t know where their probe will end.

“We are completely clueless. We suspect a number of persons, but have no evidence to draw a conclusion,” said an official involved in the probe.

Police say the recent incident, too, may end up being another “mysterious case”, much in the fashion of the National Insurance Company leather bag disappearance act.

“That was a case of double mystery. The manner in which the cash-loaded bag resurfaced was more mysterious than the way it went missing,” said a police official.

“We have studied the old case file. But it won’t be effective because those who probed the case had been clueless,” said an official of Hare Street police station.

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