Abdul Lateef Naha
‘One of the biggest challenges to Kerala Police’
20 lakh mobile calls were surveyed
Police sought the help of mobile service providers
MALAPPURAM: Thursday was a proud day for the Malappuram police. Sleuths of the force had successfully solved one of the biggest bank heist in the State’s history. “It posed one of the biggest challenges to the Kerala Police.” They displayed the recovered loot of 57.357 kg. of gold jewellery and Rs.5.51 lakh.
The police zeroed in on the culprits after following dozens of leads that took them to far-flung places in the States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Goa.
The culprits who stole gold and cash valued at Rs. 9 crore from the South Malabar Gramin Bank’s Chelembra branch at Idimuzhikkal on December 30 under the guise of repairing a restaurant functioning on the floor below had left no clues for the police. They also succeeded in misleading the police by writing ‘Jai Mao’ at the bank and also by leaving a kg. of stolen gold at a lodging in Hyderabad.
Many calls were given to the investigators from different places outside Kerala so as to divert the track of inquiry.
Additional Director General of Police (north zone) K.S. Jangpangi; Inspector General (Thrissur range) P. Vijayanand; and Superintendent of Police (Malappuram) P. Vijayan told newsmen here that more than 20 lakh mobile phone calls had to be surveyed to close in on the guilty with the help of major mobile service providers.
It was the identification of a secret phone number used by the accused to communicate between themselves that became the turning point in the investigation.
The police sought the help of mobile service providers to crack one exclusive number used by the accused. The police vetted all the 1,057 calls that crisscrossed the six mobile towers at a particular time on the eve of New Year, at which the accused was reported to have made a call at the special number.
“It was the cracking of this number that gave us the single-most crucial lead in the investigation,” said the officer.
The police said it was the Bollywood superhit ‘Dhoom’ that had inspired the accused to carry out the theft by breaking open the concrete floor of the bank. Joseph alias Jaison alias Babu, who masterminded the theft while living in Munnar, had reportedly taken two months to plan the operation.
It was a meticulously planned theft that tested the nerves of the Kerala Police.