KOCHI: On August 25, the Kochi city police was alerted about an ATM theft at Kalamassery. As per the info, a middle-aged man had made away with several customers’ money from a South Indian Bank ATM during busy transaction hours on August 18 and 19.
“Several customers could not draw cash... they returned believing that there was some technical error,” says Thrikkakara Assistant Commissioner P V Baby. “When the customers went out, the accused entered the ATM and took out the money.”
Officers suspected that similar theft attempts were made at different parts of Kochi. The big question was: would he have left the city?
Analysis of CCTV footage revealed the suspect had a limp. All police stations in Kochi were alerted.“We searched almost all lodges in the city,” says Baby.
“We received confirmation that the accused had not fled; a civilian spotted him at another ATM in the city. The suspect’s visuals were shared with all units engaged in the hunt.”
Meanwhile, a police driver passing through the Edappally toll plaza area noticed a limping man boarding a bus. “Leaving the police vehicle on the roadside, he hopped into the bus and apprehended the suspect,” says Baby.
“There was resistance, but soon other police units reached the spot and took him to the Kalamassery police station. It was a well-coordinated, joint effort that helped us nab him within hours of the alert.” Officers identified the suspect as Mubarak Ibarat, 42, of Uttar Pradesh. “He had arrived in Kochi on August 17, after a series of similar thefts in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,” notes Baby.
“He inserts a scale-like object to block currency coming out of the cash dispenser, and waits outside. As unsuspecting customers leave, he returns and pockets the cash. He stole Rs 25,000 from seven customer transactions at the ATM in Kalamassery alone. Overall, he made 140 attempts.”
Mubarak, who had studied only till Class III, managed to find simple flaws in ATMs. “He was a driver but, after an accident, he developed a limp,” says Baby. “Then, he befriended a person named Mukesh Tiwari, who was into ATM thefts. Both had earlier been arrested in ATM theft cases in UP. Recently, they parted ways and Mubarak decided to go on a solo tour.”