A meticulous plan executed in hardly a minute: A gang of six robbers looted Rs 1.33 crore from an Axis Bank cash van on the highway about 40km from Patiala on Tuesday morning, in a blink-and-miss heist.
The robbers placed a stolen Honda Amaze car around 10am at a stretch of national highway 64 that is being repaired, leaving space for only one more car to squeeze through.
Two men stood next to the car, waiting. Another four followed the bank van in a Mahindra Scorpio for a few minutes before intercepting it at the spot where the Amaze was parked.Embed Code:
When the SUV moved into the ambush, the six men took out pistols and fired.
The driver was hit, the guard overpowered, and the van got immobilised with a flat tyre. They took away the guard’s gun.
The men used a cutter to slice through the padlock and chain on the van’s rear door, while an accomplice fired in the air and stopped traffic.
They took out a trunk containing Rs 1.33 crore — hard cash being ferried from the bank’s Chandigarh Sector-34 branch to refill ATMs in Rajpura.
The men placed the chest in the SUV, abandoned the sedan at the spot, and escaped — all in a minute.
The incident happened close to Chitkara University near Banur.
“It appears to be an act of a local gang, aware of the spot and also the cash van’s movement,” said deputy inspector general of police (DIG) Sukhchain Singh Gill.
The Amaze was stolen from an excise official, Nirbhai Singh, on April 11 at Banur along the same road, the DIG said.
Sukhwant Singh, driver of the van that was on the way from Chandigarh to Rajpura, was admitted at the Government Rajindra Hospital in Patiala with a bullet wound in one of his arms.
Police set up checkpoints and alerted their counterparts in neighbouring Haryana to catch the culprits who they believe would try to smuggle out the cash in public buses.
Video footages from surveillance cameras in the area are being scanned to identify the robbers.
A look at the past
Moga, May 23, 2016: Armed robbers looted Rs60 lakhs from a cash van and gunned down the security guard
Jagraon, July 13, 2015: Rs 1.63 crore robbed from a bank van on the Ludhiana-Moga highway near Jagraon
Mohali, March 10, 2015: 10 armed men snatched a cash van containing Rs 1.34 crore after attacking its five occupants with chilli powder near Sector 85
Note: In an earlier version of the report on this link, the cash looted was mentioned as Rs 1.20 crore. The figure was later updated by the police.