A break-in at an ATM kiosk of a nationalised bank was reported in the early hours of Monday in Yavat in Pune district. Preliminary probe suggests the burglars used a gas cutter to break open the cash dispenser and fled with Rs 23 lakh, police said.
Within two hours of the theft, a very similar break-in was reported at Pen town of Raigad district in which Rs 56 lakh cash was stolen from the ATM kiosk of another nationalised bank. While Pen and Yavat are 160 km apart, investigators probing the two similar cases in neighboring districts are coordinating with each other.
The incident in Pune district was reported between 2 am and 3 am in Yavat town, 55 kilometers from Pune city.
Superintendent of Police for Pune Rural jurisdiction Abhinav Deshmukh said, “The burglars targeted an ATM kiosk of Bank of Maharashtra. The suspects used a gas cutter and fled with the cash.” After the initial probe, the police had said that Rs 2.5 lakh was stolen. However, investigation later confirmed that more than Rs 23 lakh were taken by the burglars.
Additional Superintendent of Police (Baramati Division) Milind Mohite said, “Primary probe suggests there were four burglars who came to the kiosk on two bikes. They initially blinded the security cameras with a black spray before using the gas cutter to break open the dispenser. According to information given by the bank officials, cash of Rs 23 lakh has been stolen.” The forensic analysis team and dog squad was called to the spot to assist the probe.
In Pen, two cash dispensers in an ATM kiosk were opened with a gas cutter after suspects blinded the camera with black spray at 4.30 am. An officer from Raigad district police said, “The only difference in the heists at Pen and Yavat is that in Pen, the suspects used a four-wheeler. Considering the distance between the two places, it will be farfetched to say the same set of suspects are involved. But there can be other possibilities that we are working on.”
Mohite added, “Considering the similarities between Pen and Yavat cases, we are looking at the possibilities of suspects in the two cases being linked to each other or being part of the same gang. We are coordinating with officials in Raigad.”
Pimpri-Chinchwad police is probing a recent heist at an ATM kiosk on Chakan-Alandi Road near Pune in the early hours of December 26, in which burglars had triggered a low intensity blast at the cash dispenser and stolen Rs 16 lakh.
Pune city police is also probing failed attempts to break open three cash dispensers at two kiosks in Kondhwa and Khadki Bazar areas on January 13 and 14. In a theft at an ATM kiosk near Chakan in July last year, burglars had triggered a blast using an IED-like contraption to break the dispenser and stole Rs 28 lakh. There have also been several instances in which burglars have used ropes and cars to uproot dispensers and have fled with them.
The series of recent burglaries at ATMs, especially those located in industrial areas in and around Pune, have revealed a pattern. Most of these heists have taken place in deserted areas at night. Despite very clear guidelines from the RBI and repeated communication from the police, banks and non-banking entities which manage the ATMs kiosks fail to put in place adequate security measures, officials said.
Taking note of the common aspects like the inadequate security cover at the kiosks, the police have also started charging concerned bank officials for ‘abetting’ these crimes for failing to take necessary measures towards securing these ATMs.