With the arrest of five persons, police on Monday claimed to have busted a gang involved in at least four automated teller machine (ATM) robberies in the district.
Cops, who were under fire for having failed to make any headway in the cases so far, said they have recovered Rs 11 lakh from the accused.
Among those arrested are two graduates, who worked as cash loaders in a cash replenishment agency and a security guard. The accused had recently targeted four ATMs in Jalandhar and decamped with Rs 56 lakh.
Police have also recovered .32 bore rifle, .12 bore double barrel gun, a Maruti Zen car, two bikes, two Activa scooters, four helmets, three master keys and a gas-cutter from their possession.
The accused have been identified as Kamal Kumar, 27, of Sofi village, Sunny Hans, 29, of Avtar Nagar near Guru Nanak Pura East, Deepak Kumar, 26, of Jalandhar Cantonment, Malkiat Singh, 43, of Kanjli village and Kuldeep Kumar (25) of Nawan Pind Bhatha of Kapurthala district.
One Bawa, 40, of Kanjli village, who had gone to Dubai after two robberies, has also been booked in the case.
Sunny and Deepak, both graduates from a varsity in Alwar, Rajasthan, and Kamal, a class-12 pass-out, used to work as cash loaders in a cash replenishment agency in Jalandhar and had left their jobs some time ago.
Malkiat, who had worked as a security guard in the same company, was known to Kuldeep, a skilled welder.
After reading reports in newspapers about the failure of police in arresting ATM robbers, the group decided to form a gang to earn quick money.
Cash-loaders had information that ATMs were stuffed with during holidays and weekends. Before committing robberies, the accused used to conduct a recce and disconnect the wires of inbuilt cameras of kiosk they wanted to target. The machine was opened with master keys.
After committing the robberies, the accused used to drive away on Activa scooters and bikes with their faces covered with helmets.
Malkiat’s job was to keep guard with a weapon outside asothers entered the kiosk and pulled the shutters down. Kamal used to make marks on the machine and Kuldeep used gas-cutters to open it.
After looting the cash, they used to assemble at Sunny’s house where the loot share was distributed.
Malkiat, who had procured a weapon license with the help of some ‘political contact’, purchased a chunk of land with his share of money, said police. Deepak spent it on his sister;s marriage, while Kuldeep used it for his father’s treatment.
Jalandhar police commissioner Yurinder Singh Hayer said the accused were arrested when they were planning to target another ATM.
He lauded his team comprising additional deputy commissioner of police (investigation) Vivek Sheel Soni, assistant commissioner of police (Model town) Karanveer Singh, station house officer Navdeep Singh and others for cracking the case.
With their arrest, four ATM robberies including at State Bank of India ATM at Maqsudan in March 2015, UCO Bank ATM at Guru Gobind Singh Avenue in October 2015, Union Bank ATM in Basti Bawa Khel in January 2016 and Allahabad Bank ATM at Urban Estate Phase-II this month, have been solved, added the police commissioner.
The accused have been booked under sections 399 (making preparation to commit dacoity) and 402 (assembling for purpose of committing dacoity) of the Indian Penal Code. A local court sent them to a one-day police remand.