Desperate to come out of a debt trap of around Rs 35 lakh due to online trading, a 28-year-old techie allegedly robbed a bank of Rs 85.38 lakh at knife-point but was eventually caught, Bengaluru police said on Saturday, January 22. Dheeraj Sampangi, a mechanical engineering graduate from Basaveshwaranagar in the city, had allegedly stormed into the State Bank of India branch at BTM Layout just when the staff was closing the branch on the evening of January 14, Madiwala sub-division ACP Sudhir Hegde told TNM.
With his face masked, Dheeraj allegedly held a bank staffer at knife-point and asked the other employees to open the premises. The officials followed his instructions, police officials said. The accused then took them to the strong room of the bank where he got Rs 3,76,200 in cash and 1800 gm of gold loaded in his bag, according to the police officials.
"He decided to rob the bank after a failed investment in a US-based trading company Olymp Trade. He had invested around Rs 34 lakh and he had used up his salary, his family's gold, and borrowed money from friends to try and pay it back," Sudhir Hegde told TNM.
Police were finally able to crack the case and caught him on the evening of January 18. Upon interrogation, Dheeraj revealed that he worked in a software company and earned a monthly salary of Rs 30,000. According to the police, he planned the bank heist to pay back friends, he had borrowed money from. He also allegedly watched YouTube videos of bank heists and surveyed many banks in Bengaluru and in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, before zeroing in on the SBI branch in BTM Layout. Police said he surveyed banks in south Bengaluru areas, particularly ones that were at a distance from his residence.
Police officials tracked down Dheeraj through CCTV footage from the bank and from the bus terminals in Banashankari and Majestic. "We started going door-to-door to his friends, who he had borrowed money from, but we missed him by a small time frame each time. But one of his friends told us he had borrowed his car and that clue helped us track him down," ACP Sudhir Hegde said.
"There were only two more friends he had to return the money he had borrowed to and we caught him when he approached one of them," Sudhir Hegde said.
(With PTI inputs)