Praveen Belokar (28) may not have escaped with Rs 83 lakh in cash if the security van’s cashiers and armed guard had not taken 90 minutes to lodge a police complaint.
This when a police team was on duty metres away, stationed to guard against possible disruptions of the screening of the film, Kurbaan. “Had the police been informed without wasting this much time, we would have nabbed him,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police, Dilip Suryavanshi.
Officials said had they got early information, they could have put up a police roadblock, which would likely have resulted in an arrest. “They did not even inform the police team posted near the spot,” Suryavanshi added.
Manohar Mamunkar (56), the security guard at the ATM, who witnessed the entire sequence of events, said that after they found van and Belokar missing, the two cashiers believed he may have gone to park the van elsewhere.
On not finding the van, they looked for it in the mall’s basement thinking Belokar may have parked it there to keep it from being towed away by traffic police.
“When they still couldn’t find him, the cashiers began calling Belokar on his cellphone, but found it switched off,” Mamunkar added.
“By the time the cashiers called up their office and then lodged a police complaint, over 90 minutes had been lost,” said Mamunkar. The van was later found abandoned at Mega mall, inutes from the spot, officials said.