Facebook and WhatsApp helped the police trace and arrest three of the four accused in the murder of an ATM guard on April 10.
The accused, who have confessed to being inspired by the Nabha ATM heist done in February this year, had tried to decamp with a State Bank of Patiala ATM on the Patiala-Sirhind Road and in the process killed 32-year-old guard, Gurpreet Singh.
The accused tried to tow the ATM machine after killing the guard but the iron chain broke, after which they decided to flee.
The police arrested three youths identified as Bachittar Singh, 23, Vishal Verma, 22, and Rajinder Kumar, 22, alias Kala.
All the accused are natives of Nabha.
The police recovered weapons and a vehicle bearing a fake number plate from their possession.
However, fourth accused identified as Billa, a resident of Mangewal village and Bachittar’s brother-in-law is yet to be arrested.
Though the police already have had their CCTV pictures, both the two applications helped them trace the accused. One of the senior police officials said that after procuring CCTV footages of the accused, the investigators collected data from mobile networks operating in the vicinity of the ATM during the time of crime.
“The social media accounts of the accused were found in the list of active accounts, which helped us to verify the pictures from the CCTV footage and get information regarding the location and native places of the accused,” an official said.
Inspector general of police Paramjit Singh Gill said teams comprising of technical and forensic experts were formed by the senior superintendent of police Gurmeet Singh Chauhan and thorough raids were conducted in the native paces of the accused.
“The accused were planning to loot the ATM for a long time and had also made an unsuccessful attempt to loot an ATM at Morinda,” Gill said. He added that the accused had done recces at several places to zero in on a suitable ATM.
“We have initiated further investigations to know if they were connected to the earlier robberies in Nabha on February 1, 2014 and February 9 this year,” Gill said.
On February 9, robbers had decamped with an entire ATM, common to two banks, containing over Rs 23 lakh from Nabha.
Meanwhile on February 1, 2014 three motorcycle-borne miscreants killed a guard and injured a cashier before looting Rs 37 lakh from a private cash transfer van in Nabha.