Post shootout, police teams rush to Bihar to unearth their network, antecedents, reports S. Vijay Kumar

The five suspected robbers who were shot dead by the police in an encounter at Velachery on Thursday had plans to visit Chennai again. While intimating their landlord that they would vacate on Thursday and return after a month, the suspects had paid the rent of Rs. 9,000 in advance, police sources said.

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“They probably had plans to commit more bank robberies in this part of the State. While the money looted from the Indian Overseas Bank branch in Keelkattalai was recovered intact, there is no trace of the booty made in the Bank of Baroda branch at Perungudi. There is information that the gang was not in Chennai for about 15 days between January 23 and February 20…we have information that they went to Bangalore,” a senior police official said.

The suspects, four from Bihar and one belonging to West Bengal, were in possession of deadly weapons. Initial search on their hideout revealed voters identity cards, mobile phones and ammunition used for Self-Loading Rifle (SLR). “We have formed a team to probe into the source and make of pistols and revolvers seized from the encounter scene. Preliminary enquiry revealed that the weapons were similar to those used by gangs from Bihar while committing bank robberies in Maharashtra,” the official said.

Commissioner of Police J.K. Tripathy said enquiries made in Velachery revealed that the robbers had gone to Bangalore though police would not rule out the possibility of their visiting Bihar. “We are 100 percent sure that they were involved in both the bank robberies. Three of the weapons found on their premises were dangerous. Special teams are verifying their antecedents by coordinating with the Karnataka and Bihar police. Going by the modus operandi, they do not seem to be ordinary criminals,” Mr. Tripathy said.

After sending telegrams to the addresses found on the voter’s identity cards, police are perusing the call detail records of mobile phones seized from the suspects. Since bank robbers hailing from Bihar were known to invest money in real estate and liquor business, police would also look into those angles in this case, an investigator said.

The story has been corrected for an error.