Mumbai: Bungling robbers wreck ATM machine, but couldn't steal cash

After the failed robbery, the security guard of the ATM booth, who had allegedly come up with the plan, concocted an elaborate story to throw the police off track; the cops saw through it and arrested him as well as two of the robbers

Potential booty worth lakhs proved to be so near yet so far for three robbers, whose ineptitude prevented them from accessing the money in an ATM machine despite the plan being hatched by the booth’s security guard, who was manning the booth at the time of the robbery. They trashed the ATM machine, but couldn’t open the cash compartment.

Lucky escape: The ATM at Napean Sea Road, which was the target of the failed robbery
Lucky escape: The ATM at Napean Sea Road, which was the target of the failed robbery

The incident took place around 2 am yesterday at the Dena Bank ATM near Priyadarshini Park at Napean Sea Road. After the failed robbery, the guard concocted an elaborate story — painting himself as a victim — to throw the police off track, but the police’s investigation and the CCTV footage from the booth helped them see through it.

The guard and two of the robbers were arrested in the evening yesterday.

Guard’s story
Senior PI Rajendra Kale of Malabar Hill police station said security guard Rajkumar Avadhkishor Chaudhary (21), a resident of Ambedkar Nagar, Colaba, was manning the ATM. According to Chaudhary’s initial statement, the three accused walked up to him, forcibly took him inside the ATM and downed the shutter.

Chaudhary said he immediately took out his cellphone and pretended to call an inspector from Malabar Hill police station. He claimed he managed to speak the words “Sir, please come fast, three robbers have entered the ATM” before his cellphone was snatched away and the men tied him up. He said that in their hurry, the robbers did not bother to check whether he had actually made the call.

The robbers, who had a cutter with them, started chipping away at the ATM machine, completely destroying it. But, they failed to get hold of a single note, as they couldn’t break open the cash compartment. Chaudhary claimed the robbers took his cellphone and watch, and downed the shutter from outside before fleeing.
Around 6.30 am, Chaudhary’s brother, who works as a security guard for the same bank, went to the spot and opened the shutter. The Malabar Police were called in and investigation began.

Big mistake
The inept robbers had tried to cut the wires leading to the CCTV camera, but had failed to do that properly as well, and the incident was recorded. This proved to be their, and Chaudhary’s, undoing. Police said that despite the nagging suspicion of something being amiss, they had bought the security guard’s version and were working on that basis till 3 pm. But, they had detained Chaudhary as a precaution.

“Chaudhary’s story began to unravel after we got access to the CCTV footage later in the day, and realised that he had actually been helping the robbers in their attempt to open the cash compartment of the ATM. Instead of being a victim, he turned out to be the mastermind,” said a Malabar Hill police official. Malabar Hill police arrested Chaudhary in the evening, and two of the robbers were picked up by Crime Branch Unit II. The trio have been charged with robbery, and a hunt is on for the third robber.

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