Cops suspect inside job in Manappuram heist

Apr 19, 2012, 07:58 IST | Sandip Kolhatkar

Burglars make away with 17.5 kg of gold; cops search houses of all employees

Gold ornaments and cash were burgled from Manappuram Gold Finance’s branch in Bhavani Peth on Tuesday night. The loss was pegged at Rs 3.39 crore. However, the incident came to light yesterday morning at 10.30 am, after the staff reached the office and found the ornaments and the cash missing from the safe that was kept inside a small room in the office. It was branch manager Vidyadhar Sathe who registered a complaint at Khadak police station.

According to the police, the incident occurred between 7.30 pm and 8 pm on Tuesday, when the security guard had stepped out of the office. They further stated that the burglars might have used duplicate keys for opening the room and the safe.

The Manappuram Gold Finance branch in Bhavani Peth

“Six staff members, including Sathe and assistant branch manager Sanjay Waghapure left the office at 7 pm, after ensuring that the safe and the room were properly locked. At 7.30 pm, security guard Nand Kishor Kshirsagar received a call on the office landline. The caller instructed him to come to a nearby chowk with the visitor register. Kshirsagar immediately followed the instructions and left the office, which is located on the second floor of building no 123 next to Todkar Hospital, without locking the main shutter,” said Sandipan Sawant, assistant police inspector, Khadak police station.

“We suspect that the moment he stepped out of the office, the burglars’ might have entered, opened the door of the room and the safe using duplicate keys, and decamped with 17.5 kg gold ornaments and Rs 6.34 lakh in cash. While leaving, they deactivated the alarm system by cutting its wires,” added Sawant.

Sawant said that since the alarm system was programmed to ring at any instance of tampering, it rang, but only after the burglars had made away with the booty.

Hearing the alarm bell, Bhagyashree Mai, who resides on the same floor, rushed to see what had happened. On seeing that the main shutter was open, she went inside her house to fetch a lock, using which she locked the main shutter.

“When Kshirsagar reached the spot where he was called to, he did not find anybody waiting for him. He then assumed that somebody might have played a prank on him and went to a nearby tea stall to have tea. Around 8.05 pm he returned to the office and found that the shutter was locked. He then approached the neighbour, unlocked the shutter and handed over her lock. Kshirsagar went inside, locked the shutter from inside and went to bed,” said Sawant.

Dnyaneshwar Phadtare, deputy commissioner of police (Zone I), said that there were three CCTV cameras installed in the office out of which one camera is installed in the safe room and other two cameras in the outer rooms. Surprisingly, the cameras placed in the outer rooms had seized function when the incident occurred. While the third camera’s footage access is at the main branch of the Manappuram, which is in Kerala, and they are in the process of securing it.

“We are questioning the staff, including Kshirsagar, as we suspect his role in the burglary,” said Phadtare.

The police also searched houses of all the employees working at the branch, stating that their role cannot be ruled out in the burglary.

Joint Commissioner of Police Sanjeev Kumar Singhal, who visited the spot, said that their investigation is on and soon the culprits would be behind bars.  

Don’t worry: Manager
Assuring a crowd of 50 that had gathered outside the branch after the news broke — mostly those who had taken loans against their gold — Manappuram’s regional manager Ramdas Bhorate (in pic) said that the company would take care of the situation.

“I came to take out my gold, but was shocked to hear that the firm had been burgled,” said Rahul Mane, who had taken a loan of Rs 20,000 against the gold. Pushpa Patil (in pic), a housewife, was left speechless after she received the news. She had come to repay her loan. 

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