In a burglary that has alarmed the common man, who trusts banks to safeguard jewels and documents, the Virugambakkam branch of the Indian Overseas Bank in Chennai was robbed over the weekend. And the security breach was carried out by the guard who was employed at the branch for close to five years.
The discovery that two lockers in the bank were broken into were made by staff when they came back to work on Monday. The burglary was carried out conveniently on a fourth Saturday, reportedly because the end of the financial year meant more cash in the locker. Alarmed at the site of damaged lockers, the bank manager informed the police and a team led by T Nagar Deputy Commissioner of Police Aravindan and Vadapalani Assistant Commissioner of Police Sankar visited the spot. Chennai Police Commissioner AK Viswanathan also arrived at the scene to assuage fears but refused to comment on the exact value of goods stolen.
While reports suggest that valuables worth Rs 30 lakh was stolen, an investigating official, however, played down the scale of the robbery and told TNM, "Close to five sovereigns of gold have been stolen from two lockers."
How they got to the locker
38-year-old Shabi Lal was the only security guard employed by the bank. He is from Nepal but reports suggest that he had an Aadhar card that showed his address to be in Poonamallee. He stayed in a room at the premises and is believed to have helped unidentified conspirators get into the building and help in executing the crime. He has been missing since the burglary was discovered.
According to police sources, a grill on the first floor of the building, where Shabi Lal was staying was cut into, allowing the culprits involved to enter. Police are yet to determine how many people were involved. A gas cutter has been used to get through the grill. It is basically a gas cylinder with two cutter nozzles attached to it. The same equipment has been put into use to access the lockers as well.
ToI reports that the two lockers that were cut into carry the numbers 259 and 654. They belong to Maria Anbalagan from Chennai and Suchitra from Abu Dhabo.
The police have taken CCTV recording from the building and fingerprint experts were also pressed into service. A ladder has reportedly been recovered from outside the building.
Saroja, a bank employee told the media, that other lockers were untouched but angry account holders had already gathered outside the venue. Several of them questioned how security could be so lax and why the bank had not informed them of the incident. They further feared the larger implication of an insider being involved.
"They trusted the Nepali guard because he had worked there for so long," admits an investigating official.