Police on Friday claimed to have solved the mysterious disappearance of two ATMs from two banks here and failed attempts to cart away ATMs of three other banks over the past six months with the arrest of a gang of young men from rural Bangalore.
After investigations hit the dead-end, the police stumbled upon the all-important lead — about a group of poor youths suddenly indulging in some big spending — while probing a separate theft case.
The disappearance of the ATMs had caused concern for the police with few clues available on the robbers or how the crime was carried out despite CCTV cameras picking visuals. In the past six months, a State Bank of Mysore ATM and a Bank of Maharashtra ATM were lifted away while attempts were made at a South Indian Bank ATM, a Karur Vysya Bank ATM and a Canara Bank ATM.
In four of the five cases, the suspects zeroed in on ATMs that had not been screwed to the ground and were without security guards, making it easy for them to heave away the machines into waiting trucks. The Bank of Maharashtra ATM with Rs 10.35 lakh cash was taken away on June 26 while the SBM ATM that was robbed earlier in the month contained Rs 24.35 lakh.
After robbing the ATMs, the gang of seven youths from the Hosakote region of rural Bangalore used drilling machines to carve holes in the machines to remove the cash. They then dumped the ATMs into lakes outside Bangalore.
Senior police officials said they had hit dead-end in the probe but a chance revelation by a suspect in another case — about a group of penniless youths from Hosakote who had suddenly struck it rich and were doing some big spending — led to the breakthrough.
“During the course of an investigation of the theft of a petrol tanker with 20,000 litres of fuel on the outskirts of Bangalore, two suspects from Hosakote were picked for questioning and they revealed that some youths had mysteriously struck it rich in their town. Investigations revealed that they were the ATM robbers. The picture of one of the youths was captured on the State Bank of Mysore CCTV camera,” a senior police official said.
After their arrest, the gang claimed to have drawn inspiration from a TV series.