When police questioned five youths assembling in a suspicious manner at Kachiguda railway station, they were in for a surprise. The youths, police said, claimed to have confessed to stealing 80 air-conditioners from ATMs of various banks in the city. Detective Inspector R Srinivas Reddy said the gang — three of them students — stole both indoor and outdoor units of ACs. “They stole 80 ACs from 41 ATM centres in 23 police stations areas. They stole them in broad daylight while people were using the ATMs. After uninstalling the units, they would hire auto-rickshaw and take them to their hideout,” he said.
“They chose ATMs without security guards and CCTVs. Two or three of them would walk in and start uninstalling the indoor and outdoor units. If anyone asked, they would say they were technicians repairing ACs. I don’t think anyone asked for their identity cards.”
Police said the gang tried to sell the first five ACs on OLX, but found it was taking too long. “Then they went to an AC mechanic’s shop at Fateh Darwaja and tried to sell him the ACs for Rs 4,000 a piece. The kingpin, Mohammed Ahsan Rahman alias Faisal, told the mechanic that they had a contract from banks to remove old ACs from ATMs and fit new ones. However, the mechanic became suspicious and asked for an authorisation letter from a bank. Rahman told him that the contract was to remove 100 ACs, after which they would get the letter. The mechanic said he would pay only after seeing a letter. Since December 2, the gang dumped 71 ACs at his shop, and were in the process of creating a forged letter. The ACs are worth Rs 15 lakh,’’ Reddy said.
A team from Kachiguda police station began investigating after managers from ICICI Bank and SBI, which have ATMs in the area, lodged complaints on January 8 that four ACs and four compressors were stolen. Another similar complaint was received on January 10 from Lakshmi Vilas Bank. On Saturday morning, the police came across the five youths — Mohammed Ahsan Rahman, Syed Akram, Mohammed Adil, Mohammed Ismail and Mohammed Wazeed Khan, aged 18-21 — assembling near the station in a suspicious manner. “We caught them while they were trying to take four ACs in auto-rickshaws to a godown,’’ an official said.
Rahman, 18, the alleged kingpin, is an intermediate student at SS Junior College at Santosh Nagar. He worked briefly as a coordinator for a Mumbai-based company that undertakes contracts for maintenance of ACs and CCTV cameras at ATMs in Hyderabad. He committed a theft while working with the company and was fired.
His friend Syed Akram is also an intermediate student of ISO Junior College, Tarnaka; Mohammed Ismail is a first-year degree student in Jagruthi Degree College, Malkajgiri; Mohammed Adil is an AC mechanic and Mohammed Wazeed Khan an auto-rickshaw driver.