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Guarded with a stick,robbed of Rs 29 lakh

With no security other than a watchman armed with a stick,the Naigaon branch of Aapla Sahakari Bank paid the price-Rs 28.7 lakh-on Friday when two men held the guard and the cashier at gunpoint and drove away with the cash.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai |
May 23, 2009 12:09:29 am

With no security other than a watchman armed with a stick,the Naigaon branch of Aapla Sahakari Bank paid the price – Rs 28.7 lakh – on Friday when two men held the guard and the cashier at gunpoint and drove away with the cash.

The robbers snatched the money at 7.45 am,when the cashier was taking it from the cash vault at the basement to the bank on the first floor.

The Bhoiwada police said that the bank did not have any electronic surveillance and the watchman was equipped only with a wooden stick. “Every fortnight we meet officials of all banks in our area and give them tips on security. CCTVs and armed guards,especially for branches with safe-deposit vaults and ATMs,are encouraged. But we can only give suggestions. Implementation should be the bank’s responsibility,” said DCP Sanjay Baviskar.

“The lax security helped the robbers. The bank had no CCTVs installed,nor was their sole security guard carrying any effective weapons,” he added.

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The bank opens at 8 am. The cashier,Arun Vitthalnaval,unlocked the cash vault in the basement and filled a bag with cash. A maidservant was sweeping the compound then. The watchman,Anil Kamble,was helping drag the bag out of the vault and Vitthalnaval was locking it when the two robbers entered with revolvers. They shoved the cashier inside the vault,snatched the bag from Shinde,jumped into a waiting car and sped away,said senior inspector Ambadas Gadade of the Bhoiwada police.

The police said the men had not worn any masks and spoken gruffly to the cashier in Marathi. They mentioned another eyewitness,a woman employee,who was on her way to the bank and saw the car speed away from the compound,Sensing something amiss,she rushed to the vault where the others briefed her.

As news of the robbery spread,several worried customers thronged the branch,some out of curiosity and some out of concern whether their money would be safe any longer. “I have been a customer of this bank for several years and all my savings are in its locker. I am faced with a dilemma now: will my money be safe here or with me? Both options are fraught with danger,” said an account-holder.

Bank official Suresh Chavan,acting as GM of the branch,said the branch has 75,000 accounts with 29 employees. The bank started in 1968 and has 17 branches with over Rs 822 crore in deposits.

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