Burglars broke open four bank Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) on the Cuddalore-Chittoor Road (NH 38) in Tiruvannamalai district in the early hours on Sunday and made away with over ₹72.50 lakh in cash after setting fire to the machines.
Among the four ATMs, three belong to the State Bank of India and one belongs to India One. All four ATMs are located on the Cuddalore - Chittoor road with an average of around 20 kms in distance between each robbed ATMs.
Police said the incidents came to light after beat police personnel noticed the damaged chest boxes at these ATMs during their routine patrolling. The police were at these facilities to sign the log books kept there.
Two of the ATMs are located near Thenimalai on the Thandrampattu Main Road and near Mariamman temple within Tiruvannamalai town. Another ATM is located near the railway station in Polur town. The fourth ATM is located near the Government Boys High School in Kalasapakkam town.
Except at the ATM in Kalasapakkam where there were no CCTV cameras, rest of the three ATMs that belong to SBI had CCTV cameras.
Police said the incident most likely happened after 2 a.m. on Sunday. A gas welding machine was used to break the chest boxes in all the ATMs. After looting the money, the suspects set fire to the machine.
The value of the cash robbed in the four ATMs are estimated to be ₹32 lakh (Thandrampattu Main Road), ₹19.50 lakh (Mariamman temple) in Tiruvannamalai town, ₹18 lakh (Polur town) and ₹3 lakh (Kalasapakkam town).
Accompanied by K. Karthikeyan, S. Rajesh Kannan and K. Balakrishnan - SPs of Tiruvannamalai, Vellore and Tirupattur districts, N. Kannan, Inspector General of Police (IGP), North Zone, said the burglars had targeted a particular type of ATMs as they were well aware of the mechanism of these machines. Based on similar offences in Maharashtra, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh earlier, the gang might be from other States, he said.
After examining CCTV footages on the Chittor - Cuddalore Road and toll plazas, police said the suspects likely used a white SUV. “It (robbery) was done by a gang but we don’t know how many are involved in it. One SP has rushed to a particular State based on the technical leads that we got in the case,” Mr. Kannan said.
Eight special teams have been formed for the case. Of this, three teams have been sent to neighbouring States such as Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and remaining five teams were focussing in Tiruvannamalai district. Around 85 police checkpoints have been created in Tiruvannamalai, Ranipet, Vellore and Tirupattur, covering border areas and key routes to neighbouring States.