ATM heist: Police certain of inside job theory

Machine was cracked with special key; police quizzing security personnel

The City police who are probing Saturday’s ATM heist are almost certain that it was an inside job.

A special police team has been busy questioning 15 men employed with Checkmate Security, the private security agency responsible for maintaining the ATM in question.

On Sunday, technicians from Canara Bank demonstrated to the police how the ATM was broken into. “The technicians will shortly submit a report to us,” a senior investigating officer told Deccan Herald.

“The technicians believe the machine was cracked with a special ATM key. The ATM’s upper part was opened with a key — either a genuine one or duplicate,” the officer said. “After examining the machine’s inner portion, the culprits located the cash and broke that part open with a gas cutter.”

Interestingly, the key would be accessible only to officers of the particular branch of the bank and security guards who handle the ATM, a police source said.

At present, investigators are trying to figure out which key the culprits used in the operation — a genuine key or a duplicate one. “Even if a duplicate key was used, only insiders would have access to the genuine one,” the investigating officer said. “Everyone from Checkmate Security, who was ever deployed at the particular ATM, is being questioned.”

Police are also gathering details of the firm’s employees who quit the job recently and were assigned with handling the ATM. Checkmate Security’s headquarter’s is in New Delhi. Its Bangalore branch is at Whitefield, said S N Siddaramappa, DCP (North).
‘Deploy guards at ATMs’

Meanwhile, Commissioner of City Police, B G Jyothi Prakash Mirji, held a meeting with senior officers, involved in detection of police, on Sunday and issued a circular, asking banks to deploy round-the-clock security at every ATM kiosk in the City.

The circular, however, is not a new one. Following a series of ATM thefts in 2012, Mirji had issued a similar directive advising all banks to instal CCTV cameras and deploy security guards at every ATM kiosk.

Although most ATM kiosks in the City now have CCTV cameras, in addition to another installed within the machine, several banks — among them Canara Bank and Corporation Bank — have been lapse in posting guards to monitor their kiosks.

A senior crime official said that the bank had failed to notice that both the CCTV cameras at the ATM kiosk were malfunctioning. “If a security guard had been posted to monitor the ATM, this would have never gone unnoticed,” he pointed out.

A senior officer heading the City police’s crime wing told Deccan Herald that in a city like Bangalore, banks just could not leave the ATMs unguarded. “It is almost like offering an open invitation to anyone to try and make off with the money,” he said. “The police cannot be entrusted with guarding every ATM kiosk in the City, around the clock.”

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