A spate of ATM thefts in the state has sounded alarm bells for the Himachal police that have now issued detailed instructions including a standard operating procedure for detecting and preventing such thefts. Police chiefs in all 12 districts have been instructed to ensure night patrolling including regular checks on vehicles.
“Night patrolling will now be conducted by a gazetted officer,” said a police official who requested anonymity. Superintendents of police will check night patrolling once a fortnight, subdivisional police officers twice a week and police station house officers thrice a week. The new standard operating procedure makes it mandatory for police chiefs to send a weekly report on night patrolling.
The police have also advised all banks to install high security surveillance systems at their ATMs and ensure they are connected with police stations. “Banks are equally responsible for prevention of ATM thefts as they charge their customers for ATM services,” said a police official.
The police have also called for convening a meeting of general managers of all banks to discuss security measures at ATMs. “There is a proposal to fix the opening and closing timings for ATMs,” the official added.
Police chiefs of districts adjoining other states have been asked to conduct meetings with their counterparts on information sharing. The police have also proposed to set up a “modus operandi bureau” in the state crime Investigation department. According to the plan police officials who have undergone training in crime detection at the Central Bureau of Investigation will be posted in special investigating units.
In another move, the police have decided to set up a team headed by the deputy superintendent of police to investigate ATM thefts in the state, which have seen a spurt over the past three years.
The biggest ATM theft in the state reportedly occurred last year in Una district when two Punjab National Bank ATMS in Mehatpur and Santoshgarh were broken into at the same time. Footage from CCTV cameras installed at the ATMs showed two suspects with their faces covered apparently used a gas cutter to break into the Mehatpur ATM and decamped with Rs 11,89,200. They later struck at the other ATM, breaking it open and fleeing with Rs. 17,53,400.
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