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How Dombivli heist was plotted over 1 yr

Updated on: 20 July,2022 07:45 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sachin Gaad |

All the meticulous efforts that mastermind Altaf Shaikh took to rob bank of Rs 34 crore detailed

How Dombivli heist was plotted over 1 yr

Illustration/Uday Mohite

Altaf Shaikh, the vault custodian of Integrated Currency Management Centre of ICICI Bank in Dombivli, spent nearly 365 days planning the heist of the year. Employed for nine years, he knew every detail of the security system, which he evaluated and found the flaws. On the day of the heist, he deactivated the alarm, removed hard disks of all cameras and stole Rs 34 crore from the vault.

Police said it is still not clear whether he had been hiding in the vault room before and after executing the heist or if he had help from any of the insiders. 

They said that no one is allowed inside the Integrated Currency Management Centre after office hours or on holidays. 

But, Altaf Shaikh managed to beat all security measures and steal from the vault, which is secured with biometrics for entry. Police are investigating to crack the missing details, and are on the lookout for Altaf. 

No one is allowed to access the vault after working hours, i.e. 6.30 pm. But, on the night of July 9, Altaf manages to get inside. It remains a mystery how. He deactivates the alarm for two hours, from 11 pm-1 am, removes hard drives of 10 of the 16 cameras near the vault and opens the highly secure vault located in the basement

He starts taking out the cash, mostly the bundles of Rs 2,000 and takes Rs 34.20 crore in total

He unscrews an AC duct, no bigger than the size of a small laptop, and throws the bundles out. The duct leads to the back of the building where there’s a heap of garbage. Police say the employees found the cash covered with tarpaulin

On Monday, after almost 30 hours, Altaf calls his three accomplices—Israr Abrar Qureshi, 33, Shamshad Ahmed Khan, 33 and Anuj Giri, 30, all residents of Mumbra. They leave in a Tempo with Rs 5.80 crore, but are caught on a CCTV camera of the bank, helping police catch them later and recover Rs 5.8 crore from them

Later in the day, the vault manager arrives and goes for his first job of the day—check whether backup of 90 days’ CCTV camera footage is intact, and find them missing. He calls the technician who informs him that hard drives of cameras around the vault are missing. All bank officials are rushed to the vault and they start counting

Police are also called, and they seal the building and instruct the 50 bank employees to not leave the premises until further order. It takes them around two days to count the cash in the vault, and realise that Rs 34 crore was missing. On Wednesday, the entire building is searched, and Rs 22 crore under tarpaulin is found

All this while Altaf is in the bank, helping in the probe. He is spooked when he hears a few employees mention that footage of the 10 CCTV cameras are on the cloud. He realises he has no option but to run

Altaf claims he is briefly stepping outside for a smoke and disappears with Rs 6.4 crore. He has switched off his phone, police say, adding that neither the bank employees nor they know yet whether Altaf was on the premises since the day of the heist

City saw 2 heists in ’21

>> In December last year, two masked men entered the SBI’s Dahisar branch and robbed R2.5 lakh in cash after firing at a contractual employee, killing him. After killing Sandesh Gomane, 25, the duo threat-ened the bank cashier and fled with the cash. Mumbai police arrested cousins Vikas Yadav, 19, and Dharmendra Yadav, 21, from Dahisar East, with the help of their sniffer dog

>> In July last year, the former manager of ICICI bank’s Virar East branch killed the then deputy manager and grievously injured the cashier in an attempted robbery. The accused, Anil Dubey, 35, who had worked at the bank for 15 months, tried to flee with gold ornaments worth R3.38 crore stolen from the bank’s locker. However, he was caught by the people outside and handed over to the police. Dubey was aware that past 7.30 pm, there would be only a few employees in the bank, while the morning security guard would leave by 7 pm and the night guard arrived at 9 pm. He had lost money in stock market and in different business ventures

>> In November 2017, a gang of criminals dug a 30-feet tunnel and looted cash and jewellery worth R3.43 crore from the Sanpada branch of Bank of Baroda. The gang dug a tunnel from a nearby shop between November 10 and November 12, and looted 27 lockers. The heist came to light only after the weekend, when the bank opened on Monday. Police arrested over 10 people

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