The staff of Juinagar branch of Bank of Baroda in Navi Mumbai was shocked on Monday morning when they found out that a tunnel had been dug into the locker room, and cash and valuables estimated to be valued at Rs 2 crore and above had been emptied out of 30 lockers.
In a dramatic fashion, the thieves had rented a shop located near the bank six months ago, ran a general store there as a cover-up for their activities, and dug 25 feet underground tunnel leading into the locker room of the bank to execute the heist.
According to the police, in May, the suspects had set up Shree Balaji General Store in a unit located two stores away from the bank branch located in the Bhakti residential society in Sector 11 of Sanpada. The police have identified the main suspect in the case as Gena Prasad, under whose name the shop premises was rented.
“The thieves had conducted a proper recce and after finding the bank shut over the weekend, they entered the bank and took away the jewellery and cash kept in the lockers,” said a Sanpada police officer. Of 225 lockers at the bank, 30 were found emptied out, police said.
“The neighbouring shop owners have said that the thieves had set up a general store,” said the officer.
“They opened the store every day for daily business so that people would not be suspicious of their presence. Neither the bank guard nor any person in the building heard any noise while the tunnel was being dug.The thieves were digging the tunnel since the past few days and were waiting for the bank to be shut for the weekend,” he added.
“The locker owners have been asked to give their statements to ascertain the value of property lost in the theft. Prima facie the amount is estimated to be at least Rs 2 crore, and we are waiting for the bank customers to report the total loss of their belongings,” said a police officer.
Hemant Nagrale, Commissioner of Police, Navi Mumbai, said, “We have few leads in the case and a case under sections 454 (house breaking), 457 (house breaking at night) and 380 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered at Sanpada police station.
The suspects had set up Shree Balaji General Store in May. It was located two stores away from the bank branch in the Bhakti residential society in Sanpada.