Police checkmate ATM thieves

Employee of security firm studied machine's design and got fake key; suspects deftly cracked the safe to ensure money was not burnt

Police checkmate ATM thieves

The daring and “flawless” heist of Canara Bank ATM was carried out by three men, including an assistant field officer (AFF) with Checkmate Security, the firm whose job was to refill the machine with cash, police said on Wednesday. The suspects have been arrested.

Raghu, 34, plotted the heist and successfully executed it with the help of his friends — Mahesh, 40, and Sunil, police claimed. Investigators, who were certain from the very beginning that the heist was an inside job, narrowed Raghu down among the 15 people who had access to the key of the ATM in question.

Raghu and another AFF employed with the said firm were grilled on how the ATM was cracked open, a senior police officer who led the investigation said.

“It was clear from day one that the heist was carried out with the active help of an insider. The job was done with precision and absolute shrewdness. But the flawless operation itself became their undoing,” the officer, wishing anonymity, told Deccan Herald.

Raghu, a native of Nidamanahalli village, Hassan district, had earlier worked at a milk dairy and joined the security firm recently. He, however, was not regularly assigned with refilling the ATM. He used to chip in when others were not on duty.

He reportedly studied the design and scheme of the ATM when he got a chance to refill the machine for four days. Then he planned the heist, the officer said.
‘Expert gas cutter’

To begin with, Raghu “cleverly” tampered with the CCTV camera installed inside the ATM, on May 28, and waited for the machine to be refilled with cash so that he could strike it rich.

Meanwhile, he roped in Sunil, who runs a gas welding shop at Arakalgud town of Hassan district. The latter was an expert gas cutter, police said. Mahesh was also urged on. Both of them arrived in the City and the bunch then waited for the ATM to be refilled.

Then Raghu learnt that the machine was to be refilled with cash around 4.30 pm on June 8. He immediately asked his friends to get ready for the “job”. Accordingly, the gang struck, police explained.

According to police, Raghu possessed a duplicate key of the ATM, with which he opened the upper part of the machine. The suspects had studied the machine’s design “so carefully” and the gas cutter was employed “so surgically” that they exactly cracked open the ATM’s safe, ensuring that money inside was not burnt.

The trail

Police got the initial hints when it was clear that the machine’s upper part was opened with a duplicate key. Thus, it was evident that someone who had access to the original key was involved, police added.

15 men had access

Then, investigators questioned all employees of the firm who had ever handled the ATM in question. It emerged later that all of 15 men had access to the key. In addition, it was clear from the scene of the crime that the CCTV camera inside the ATM had been deliberately made defunct on May 28. The list of suspects was narrowed down to two AFFs who were on duty that day. One of them was Raghu, police said.

The two were separately interrogated. Raghu was part of a team of two AFFs and an equal number of gunmen which handled the ATM from May 24 to 28. Incidentally, his last day was the one when the CCTV camera was tampered with. When grilled, he spilled the beans, police claimed.

After a “successful” job, Sunil and Mahesh had run away to their native places with the booty, but Raghu reported for work as usual.

Police arrested Sunil and Mahesh on Tuesday and recovered Rs 18 lakh and the gas cutter used to crack the ATM open. Two cars allegedly used by the suspects in the operation have also been seized.

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