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Theft incidents in Chandigarh: ATMs without guards targeted after lockdown, police approach banks

In Mohali, unidentified persons uprooted a Punjab National Bank (PNB) ATM, containing almost Rs 16 lakh, by tying ropes to it and further tying them to a heavy motor vehicle, on June 10.

Written by Saurabh Prashar | Chandigarh |
June 26, 2020 12:09:45 pm
Theft incidents in Chandigarh: ATMs without guards targeted after lockdown, police approach banks Police personnel inspects the SBI ATM in Sector 44 after theft attempt on Thursday in Chandigarh. Express photo by Kamleshwar Singh.

As many as three ATMs in Chandigarh and one in Mohali have been targeted since after the lifting of curfew. All the three did not have security guards, forcing the police to take up the issue with the bank managements. In Chandigarh, burglars managed to steal Rs 7.64 lakh from one of the ATM kiosks of Union Bank of India, Kishangarh.

In two other incidents, thieves were not successful.

In Mohali, unidentified persons uprooted a Punjab National Bank (PNB) ATM, containing almost Rs 16 lakh, by tying ropes to it and further tying them to a heavy motor vehicle, on June 10. Mohali police yet to make any headway in this case.

“The point is in our knowledge. We have decided to take up this issue with the official bearers of the association of bank officers. Not only in Chandigarh, we came to know that ATMs targeted in adjoining cities were also without security guards. Though during daytime guards stand there, they were absent during the night,” said SP (Chandigarh) Vinit Kumar.

“As per the record collected in March, 2019, there are over 1,051 ATMs in the Tricity. At that time, 60 per cent of the ATMs were found with security guards. We have to recheck the current status of these ATM kiosks. Besides this, when a flood of phishing and ATM card cloning incidents were reported in Tricity, bank managements were also urged to hire guards for the security of ATMs round-the-clock,” said police sources.

“There are a few grey areas in this connection. The bank management usually hires guards from private security agencies, who decide the working hours of the guards. The installation of centralised security alarms interlinked between the ATM and main bank branch, coding system etc have replaced guards. There are so many cases in which attempts of burglaries, thefts were prevented due to these systems. But ATMs situated in secluded and faraway places are not secure,” said a bank officer attached with State Bank of India (SBI) requesting anonymity.

Attempt to loot SBI ATM in Sec 44 foiled by siren

In a continued series of targeting cash loaded Automated Teller Machine (ATM) booths, unidentified persons attempted to break a State Bank of India (SBI) ATM in Sector 44 in the wee hours of Thursday.

The attempt was unsuccessful as the installed siren blew. Before striking the ATM machine, one of the suspects sprayed a chemical on the CCTV camera installed inside the ATM booth.

Police said, there was no security guard at the ATM during the night. The incident took place post midnight. Sources said, two people were involved in the crime and one of them entered the ATM booth and the other stood outside.

The person inside the booth tried to open the small door of the cavity, in which cash loaded trays were kept. As he failed, he went to the rear side and tempered with the code machine of the kiosk and when suddenly a siren blew up, following which, the two escaped from the spot.

Manager at a nearby SBI bank branch, Sumit Gupta reported to police that the alarm sounded in the branch premises. Guard deputed at the premises had alerted senior officers and the police control room. Police rushed to the spot.

A police officer said, “No loss was reported. The thieves failed to steal any money. They failed to break the front portion and code was not decoded. The installed alarm blew. This prevented the heist. We have sent a notice to the SBI management, urging them to depute a security guard at the ATM. We also urged them to ensure that guards are deputed at all their ATMs in Chandigarh. The notice was issued from the SHO PS 34, Inspector Baldev Kumar.”

A forensic team inspected the ATM kiosk and police registered a case at PS 34.

Sources said, the CCTV footage of the incident is being tallied with the CCTV footage of one of the suspects caught inside the ATM of Union Bank of India at Kishangarh village, from where Rs 7.64 lakh was stolen on June 17.

A case in that connection was registered at PS IT Park. Chandigarh police, so far, has failed to identify and arrest any of the culprits.

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