On April Fools’ day, a seven-member police team dressed in a kurta and lungi managed to trick — and catch — a 45-year-old alleged ATM thief. The accused, Aslam, had managed to outsmart police on several occasions in the past, uprooting and taking away ATMs in different areas and then posing as a first-time offender so he would get bail easily.
Tired of being taken for a ride, the Special Staff of Dwarka Police, headed by inspector Naveen Malik, posed as members of a gang from Mewat, and carried out an operation they called ‘April Fool’. As soon as the accused approached an ATM in the area, he spotted the policemen dressed as gang members, who struck up a conversation.
He then bragged about his previous criminal involvements and asked them about their crime records. After extracting enough information, a head constable from the group shouted ‘April Fool’ — much to Aslam’s surprise.
“He got scared and tried to run away, but was arrested,” said DCP (Dwarka) Anto Alphonse.
Police claimed Aslam was wanted in a case of attempting to steal an ATM in Maurya Enclave in 2012, following which a city court declared him absconding.
Police claimed he has uprooted ATMs in Rajasthan, Karnataka and Kanpur, and is part of a new wave of ATM thieves who operate out of Mewat.
Explaining how the gang exploited vulnerability of ATMs, an officer said, “There are two types of installations. One in which an ATM is fixed to the ground with nuts and bolts, and another in which it is placed on the ground and stuck with a strong adhesive. Both are hard to uproot, but the second is relatively easier.”
The accused and his gang would spend three days conducting a recce of ATMs in isolated areas, which also had good access roads for a quick escape. The gang would use a Scorpio or a Fortuner car for their operation. “Nobody expects the driver of a Fortuner car to uproot an ATM. The accused would tie a belt around the ATM and use a makeshift pulley tied around the car. When the car accelerated, the ATM would be uprooted,” the officer said.
The accused persons would take the ATM to Mewat, and pry open the cash collection box using a gas cutter.