Bengaluru

Mechanical engineer arrested for robbing bank at knifepoint to repay loan

The south-east division police cracked a bank robbery case and arrested a 28-year-old mechanical engineer who allegedly held bank staff at knifepoint and made away with 1.8 kg of gold jewellery and ₹3.7 lakh in cash. The incident took place on January 14 at the Madiwala branch of the State Bank of India.

After scanning CCTV footage, a special team led by Sudhir M. Hegde (ACP, Madiwala sub-division) identified the accused, Dhiraj S., and tracked him down at Yelahanka within four days of the incident. “Dhiraj was arrested when he visited a friend to pay back a loan he had taken from him,” said a police officer.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (South east) Srinath Mahadev Joshi said that the accused is a resident of Kamakshipalya and lived with his father and younger brother. “He is a mechanical engineer by profession and employed with a private company in Indiranagar,” he said.

‘Lost money on online trades’

Investigations revealed that Dhiraj had invested lakhs of rupees in online trading, but incurred huge losses. He borrowed heavily and took loans from private banks and friends. “He even pawned gold jewellery belonging to his late mother. Under pressure to pay back the loans, he hatched a plan to rob a bank,” said the police.

Investigations revealed that he read newspaper articles on bank robberies and looked at websites to conduct heists successfully. “He watched online videos in an attempt to pick up tips on how to get away with a bank robbery. He then reviewed banks looking for branches that appeared to have fewer security measures,” a senior police officer.

After days of research, he decided to rob SBI’s Madiwala branch around the time of Makar Sankranti, and spent two days watching the bank. On January 14, around 6 p.m., with his face covered by a mask, he barged into the bank with a knife, and threatened the in-charge manager and staff. He forced them to fill his bag with cash and jewellery and fled.

“He walked for three kilometres before boarding an autorickshaw to Banashankari bus stand. From there, he boarded a bus to Majestic, and then another bus to Chikkamagaluru. In this manner, he went to Tarikere, Tumakuru, and all the way to Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, before returning to Bengaluru,” the police officer added. He did this in an attempt to dodge the police.

On his return to the city, he started repaying his loans and was able to buy back his mother’s jewellery from the gold company he had pawned them to.

How the case was cracked

Meanwhile, the police team led by Mr. Hegde, based on CCTV footage and a suspicious call from the nearest mobile tower to the bank, got a photo of Dhiraj unmasked. When they found out where he lived, a team visited the house where they discovered more photos of Dhiraj that matched the one they had. “When we started gathering information on him, we learned of his loans. In fact, many of his friends said that he had only recently paid them back. The timing matched the bank robbery,” said the police.

The police got a list of all the friends whom Dhiraj had to repay. Teams were sent to their houses, and one team was able to arrest him when he came to visit a friend in Yelahanka to repay him.The police recovered 1.8 kgs of gold, a backpack, a knife and a mobile phone.

Lapses in bank security

The police during their investigation found lapses on part of the bank in terms of providing adequate security cover. “The bank should have a proper alarm system which can be activated so that the nearest police station or control room is alerted in the event of a robbery,” a police officer said. He added that staff members did not have any training given on how to handle such situations.


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Printable version | May 25, 2022 5:57:06 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/mechanical-engineer-arrested-for-robbing-bank-at-knifepoint-to-repay-loan/article38311041.ece