As Jalandhar City police have miserably failed to make any headway in eight ATM robberies reported here in the last ten months, the ‘helmet gang’ has successfully targeted ATMs and managed to sneak out from under the nose of the cops.
A quick look at the modus operandi of the gang reveals that it struck at ATMs on holidays and on Saturdays and Sundays when extra cash had been loaded in the machines by the banks.
Out of eight such heists, four were executed by the ‘helmet gang’, in which a man wearing a helmet entered the ATM kiosk and looted all the cash in the machine after forcing it open with gas cutters.
Notably, CCTV footage could be retrieved for only these four cases of the ‘helmet gang’. In the rest, the robbers either removed the CCTV camera right after entering the kiosk or cut the electrical supply before entering the ATM kiosk.
On February 13, a man covered his face with a helmet and entered the kiosk of Allahabad Bank at Shaheed Capt Roopendra Singh Garcha commercial complex in Urban Estate Phase-II at 8.06am and decamped with cash amounting to `8.25 lakh.
The heist at ATM of Union Bank of India branch at Basti Bawa Khel locality on the busy Kapurthala road on January 16 was also done by a man wearing a helmet. The ATM was emptied on the occasion of birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh when extra cash had been loaded in the machine.
Similarly, a helmet-wearing man looted `12.1 lakh from an ATM of UCO Bank women’s branch at Guru Gobind Singh Avenue on November 14, which was the second Saturday of the month when the bank was closed and extra cash had been loaded. The robber entered the kiosk and opened the machine with gas cutters.
On March 22, 2015, a Sunday, a State Bank of India ATM at the Maqsudan vegetable market here was opened with gas cutters and `24 lakh were looted. This robbery by the gang happened only a few metres away from a police station.
A senior police officer said police were suspecting the role of employees working in private security companies, who are responsible for loading cash in ATM kiosks as per the contract with the banks.
He said details had been sought from the banks and companies about the staff deployed for this job.
“We have circulated the photographs of members of the ‘helmet gang’, as captured by CCTV cameras in ATMs but no major breakthrough has been made in the loot cases,” he said.
“They have become perfectionists in their work as they do not carry mobile phones and leave no fingerprints or any other clues at the crime scene,” said the official, adding that the local police was also facing the wrath of the higher-ups in Chandigarh. “It is certainly a failure on our part that we have failed to solve any loot case,” he added.
While four robberies have been executed by the ‘helmet gang’ using gas cutters, ATMs were uprooted and taken away in three other cases and in one case, the robbers broke open the machine with metal tools to loot the cash.