Miscreants continue to target the automated teller machines (ATMs) of Punjab National Bank (PNB) in the district, with the bank authorities refusing to learn any lessons from the past incidents.
Surprisingly, the police too have failed to make any breakthrough in any of the cases so far. On Thursday, Rs. 17.64 lakh was looted from an ATM at Kamahi Devi and like in previous cases, the accused managed to flee without leaving any clue.
In the last one-and-a-half years, seven ATMs of PNB were looted in the district while a couple of attempts remained unsuccessful. In January 2013, Rs. 8.84 lakh was looted from Sham Churasi, Rs. 18.35 lakh from Nandachaur and Rs. 30 lakh from some ATMs at Miani, Adda Saran and Bhunga in just one night. Rs. 15 lakh has been looted from ATMs in Mukerian this year so far.
In the absence of security guards, miscreants break open the machines with the help of gas cutters and decamp with money. CCTV footage proves to be of little help to the police as the robbers come with their faces covered.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Sushil Kumar said their department had issued several advisories to the banks, but were ignored. A PNB official, who did not want to be named, said the bank had a complex policy on deployment of security guards. The other reason is that bank officials concerned are not held responsible for loss of money from the ATMs, he added.
Unmanned ATM kiosks are a cause of concern for the customers also. It is risky to withdraw money at odd hours, particularly from the kiosks set up in rural areas, said Tejinder Singh, a customer.
“The CCTV cameras are not sufficient to check crime. At many places the cameras too are outdated and get very poor quality footage which is of no help to identify the criminals,” he added.