In a daring strike, clinically similar to last month's bank robbery at Perungudi, armed men made away with Rs.14 lakh from the Keelkattalai branch of Indian Overseas Bank on Monday afternoon.
Brandishing pistols and taking care to seize the mobile phones of staff and customers first, the gangsters employed a modus operandi similar to the one used by the culprits who struck at the Bank of Baroda branch at Perungudi in January.
St. Thomas Mount district police officers told reporters that a group of five men arrived at the branch on Medavakkam Main Road at 2.05 p.m. in a car. The branch, located very close to the Madipakkam police station and the Keelkattalai Bus Terminus, was busy on the first working day of the week. While one of them stood near the gate, four others barged inside the premises. Two of them pulled out a pistol, taking the nearly dozen staff by shock and surprise. The men snatched the mobile phones of the staff and a few customers present at the time. Two of them entered the branch manager's room and asked him for the keys to the safety vault.
They were informed that the clerk who had the keys was yet to return after lunch. They then made their way to the cash counters and threatened the staff there to open the doors. Without any protest, the staff opened the counter and the men snatched the cash boxes, emptied the cash into a couple of bags and left the spot in the car in which they had arrived.
Eye-witnesses, who did not want to be named, said the men had entered the bank and returned to the car in minutes. A young man, working in a hardware store exactly opposite the bank, said there was no commotion, but the sight of a group of men walking away with bags from the bank was abnormal. As news about the incident spread, anxious account holders, many of them women, flocked the branch. They were concerned about the safety of their valuables in the vault. On January 23, four armed men robbed Rs. 19 lakh from Bank of Baroda in Perungudi. Police sources said that on Monday, the gang entered the bank five minutes after power supply was cut. The daily one-hour power cut in Keelkattalai was between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.