Robbers hold coop bank staff hostage, loot Rs 21 lakh

All three bank robberies were reported on Monday, the first day of the week when the banks have more cash because transactions of deposits and withdrawals are usually more on this day, police said.

After the bank robberies, police stepped up vigilance and intensified the checking of vehicles during nakabandi's but in vain. According to police, three robbers barged into Saraswat Bank in suburban Kandivali this morning soon after it was opened and held security guard, two customers and eight staff members hostage.

"Masked with kerchiefs, the three robbers pulled out pistols and threatened the people inside the bank before holding them hostage for 15 minutes," Deputy Police Commissioner Rajendra Dabade told PTI.

"The robbers filled cash at the counter in their bags. Then they asked for more cash. When the staff did not respond, they slapped them after which strongroom was opened and cash inside it was taken away," he said.

After filling their bags with Rs 20.97 lakh cash, the accused escaped on a bike, he said adding one of the witnesses has noted down the bike number.

A police officer on condition of anonymity told PTI the guard Ram Dubey (40) was not carrying any weapon and there were no CCTVs in the bank. "The alarm bell was pressed but it was too late," he said.

The officer said they were verifying the bike number with Road Transport Office. "But the burglars either use fake number plate or use stolen bike to commit such crimes to evade arrest," the officer added. Today's bank robbery is third such incident in last four months in Northern Mumbai.

On June 21, Model Cooperative Bank Limited in Malad was robbed of Rs 34 lakh allegedly by four armed men. On August, 30 five armed men allegedly barged into Borivali HDFC Bank and escaped with Rs 27.5 lakh.

Both the robberies were also carried out on Monday, police said adding several meetings with officials of various banks were held but they were not following security norms.

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