A 35-year-old man from Haryana, suspected to be the mastermind behind the series of ATM robberies in Tiruvannamalai last Sunday, has been arrested by a Tamil Nadu special investigation team at his home town, Nuh (formerly Mewat) district, according to sources in the police. A total of ₹72.5 lakh had been stolen in the burglaries.
The sources said the suspect, Asif Jamal, was arrested before he could reach his home. His suspected associates have also been picked up and are being interrogated at different places. Police teams led by K. Karthikeyan and S. Rajesh Kannan, Superintendents of Police (SPs) of Tiruvannamalai and Vellore districts respectively, had managed to track them down.
“As part of the investigation, 10 suspects are being interrogated. The case is nearing its end. We will release the photographs and videos of the suspects soon,” said N. Kannan, Inspector General of Police (IGP), North Zone. He was accompanied by M.S. Muthusamy, DIG (Vellore range). However, Mr. Kannan neither denied the arrest of Jamal, nor acknowledged it, at a press meet, organised at the SP’s office in Tiruvannamalai on Thursday.
Mr. Kannan said said only formalities such as names of the accused, age, origin and other personal details are left [to determine] before the detained suspects are remanded to judicial custody. Among the detained suspects involved in the case, two persons are being interrogated at KGF in Kolar, Karnataka; six persons in Gujarat and two persons in the Nuh district of Haryana.
Detailing the modus operandi of the gang, Mr. Kannan said the 10 suspects, including those who helped in the crime, stayed at a hotel in KGF where they planned the entire heist. From the hotel, the gang visited Tiruvannamalai and other neighbouring areas and monitored these areas for weeks before they executed the heist. After the burglary, the suspects stayed in their hideout at KGF (Kolar) before boarding a flight from Bengaluru airport.
Mr. Kannan has asked banks to step up safety measures at ATMs. It was found that most of the maintenance of ATMs including their security arrangements have been outsourced by the banks. Many ATMs do not have functional CCTV cameras, alarm systems or security guards.
Of the four burgled ATMs, two were located near Thenimalai on the Thandrampattu Main Road and near Mariamman temple within Tiruvannamalai town. Another ATM was located near the railway station in Polur town. The fourth ATM was located near the Government Boys High School in Kalasapakkam town. Three ATMs belong to the State Bank of India and one belonged to private operator India One. At the four ATMs the cash stolen was: ₹32 lakh (Thandrampattu Main Road), ₹19.50 lakh (Mariamman temple) in Tiruvannamalai town, ₹18 lakh (Polur town) and ₹3 lakh (Kalasapakkam town).