Shoot orders out against TN bank gang

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Senior officers of the Chennai police on Tuesday said the six teams working on the Kizhkattalai bank heist have been given orders to shoot at sight if they apprehend the armed gang of robbers.

The police has spread the dragnet to nab the gun-wielding robbers who carried out the heist on Monday.

The teams investigating the Kizhkattalai case are busy conducting vehicle checks across the city and are in the process of preparing sketches of the robbers using eyewitness accounts.

A five-member gang targeted the Indian Overseas Bank in the commercial locality of Kizhkattalai and looted Rs 14 lakh.

The gang, which came in a van, entered the bank as customers, held bank manager Shanmuga Sundaram and customers at gunpoint, locked them in a room and decamped with cash from two of the counters.

Recalling a similar bank robbery that took place at Perungudi on Old Mahabalipuram Road a few days ago, which still remains unsolved, the police suspect that the same gang could have carried out both heists.

“The modus operandi at both the robberies are the same and they both took place on a Monday and the fact that the gang involved in the two crimes were not fluent in Tamil and conversed mostly in Hindi has raised a lot of suspicions,” said a senior police official.

The recent robbery took place just 28 days of the other heist and the offenders probably watched the banks for sometime as they seemed to know that both banks did not have surveillance cameras, he added.

The police are also trying to obtain CCTV footage from banks located near IOB in Kizhkattalai to see if anyone had been surveying this bank.

The authorities at IOB, where the heist happened, have promised to set up surveillance cameras at the earliest.

Banks give safety measures a miss

The repeated occurrence of robberies in banks and jewellery shops in Tirupur has not had an impact on business establishments who seem not to care to take any additional security measures to protect their goods nor follow the safety norms suggested by the police.

In the aftermath of the daring daylight robbery at Muthoot Mini Financiers Ltd in Tirupur where robbers decamped with 1,000 sovereigns of jewellery in September last year, the Tirupur police recommended that finance firms and banks install CCTV and burglar alarms and employ guards round the clock. However, the finance firms continue to ignore the norms, said a senior police officer.

While many have not installed CCTV cameras, even those firms that have the facility are using cameras of inferior quality with low resolution. “The criminals could not be identified with the blurred images captured in such poor quality cameras,” he said.

The police said organisations, which handle large amounts of public money, should be more safety conscious. “If the firms does not follow guidelines and ignore safety norms, they will become an easy target for the offenders.

Proving the point about lax security is the Alukkas shop where they switched off the surveillance camera installed inside the showroom. It defeats the very purpose of installing cameras. They don’t have a burglar alarm either,” the police officer said.

A few months before to the Muthoot Mini Financiers Ltd robbery, two men had threatened to blow up the Canara Bank in Tirupur, claiming to have powerful bombs tied to their body.

They also showed a fake remote to operate the bombs and a dummy pistol to the bank staff and took away nearly Rs 4 lakhs,” police said. However, when the culprits attempted to flee, the public chased and caught them red handed with the loot.

“We have now decided to make a fresh appeal to the banks, finance firms and commercial establishments in Tirupur instructing them to adhere to the suggested safety guidelines,” he said.

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