Burglars after breaking into the PACS office strike gold literally, thanks to the locker keys being left in the open, writes MARRI RAMU

There are common features in the two recent burglaries at Yacharam on the city outskirts and at Jubilee Hills in the city reported in the past week. These two sensational offences are also wake up calls for both the law-enforcing agencies and the property owners.

Initially, the investigators were sceptical of the reports that gold jewellery worth over Rs. 80 lakh was stolen from the office of the Primary Agricultural Co-operative Credit Society (PACS) at Yacharam. The scepticism stemmed from the question. Why would such a huge quantity of jewellery be stored in a remotely located PACS office?

After it was confirmed that the jewellery belonged ryots who mortgaged their ornaments to secure farm loans, suspicion of possible complicity of insiders was raised as it was found that the keys of the steel safe of PACS were left in the office table drawer using which the burglars made off with the property. This too turned out to be wrong presumption when the police found empty packets of jewellery on a nearby hillock.

Property owners -- the office staff in the case of PACS -- leaving the keys in the open is the first common feature in the two crimes. This is not the first time such a lapse on the part of property owners was noticed by the police. The keys of the almirah locker were left in the clothes in the second case of burglary in the house of a film producer at Jubilee Hills, a common mistake committed by many.

Convenient

The entry point, shutter of the PACS, was not secured properly. Though the shutter had options of locks on either side, one side was left unlocked. The burglars forcibly lifted the unlocked side of the shutter and sneaked inside. The entry point, main door of the producer’s house, too was not properly protected. Inmates of the house left the key in the keyhole of the main door’s central lock making it convenient for the offenders.

Unprotected

The lesson to be learnt from the Yacharam burglary is not to keep huge quantities of jewellery at unprotected places. The PACS, where more than 5 kg of jewellery was stored did not have a guard, security alarms and secret cameras and was not even locked properly. Moreover, an attempt to loot a poorly protected cooperative bank in Shamshabad was made days before.

Had the police checked if there were more such vulnerable places, the burglary at Yacharam could have been avoided. Thieves always are on the look out for an easy entry. Leaving keys in the open makes their job much easier. Investigators say this simple lapse is proving costly for many house owners and these two offences should be an eye-opener for all.