Even as the city is witnessing a rise in the number of thefts of ATM machines, the police have been unable to solve past cases, reported three years ago. As the case files gather dust, some of the investigation officers have even been transferred.
One of the first incidents of Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) theft was reported on May 26, 2010 in Anekal. A gang had made away with an ATM in a vehicle while two night watchmen assigned to guard the machine had slept in the adjacent HDFC Bank hall. The ATM, containing `16 lakh, had not been secured to either the wall or the floor. Just a couple of weeks later, an ATM was stolen from Mangalore and the machine was found abandoned near Udupi. The Bangalore Rural police suspected the hand of the same gang, but failed to trace the accused.
A month later, on July 13, 2010, a gang, posing as security guards, stole an ATM belonging to the state-run State Bank of Patiala, with `10 lakh cash, at Singasandra on Hosur Road. The emptied machine was found near Parappana Agrahara lake. The culprits had set the machine on fire.
A few days later, there was an attempt to steal an ATM on Kanakapura Road near Sathanur Circle. The security guard, who was asleep in a shed on the bank’s premises, was woken up by the noise and raised an alarm, but the gang managed to escape, leaving behind a three-wheeler. While police investigation in these cases reached a dead end, yet another case was reported on Monday night where a gang of seven made away with a SBI ATM from Dwaraka Nagar on Bagalur main road, which had `24 lakh. Police admit that a professional gang is targeting ATMs. Speaking to Express, a senior police officer who investigated the July 2010 case, said that during investigation, they learnt that the gang had committed similar crimes in Chennai, Vellore and Mangalore.
“The thieves are physically strong and target ATMs located at a slightly higher level so that they can easily slip the machine into their vehicles. Before committing the crime, they seem to study security measures and choose proper vehicles and also pick their routes for escape,” he said.
After studying similar cases, police suspect that the gang which struck at Sriperumbudur and Chennai in Tamil Nadu, headed towards Anekal and Mangalore. They smashed the CCTV cameras before committing the theft, the police officer said.