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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A famous Textile shop loses cash in transit

Those visiting Chennai could afford to miss Chennai Central but not the bustling Thyagaraya Nagar (T Nagar) a prime commercial locality. There are textile shops famous of them being : Nalli Silks, Kumaran Silks, Kumaran Stores, the Pothys, Chennai Silks, Saravana Stores, Jayachandras, Sri Krishna Collection and many more………… there are equal no. of shops selling gold ornaments and any given day you can find maddening crowd of people buying gold, silk, textiles and many many more things. Besides the platform shops in Pondy bazaar attracts multitudes. It would take special skills to navigate inside Ranganathan Street housing Saravanas, Jayachandras on festival days.

In a couple of my earlier postings, I had written about the hazards of transporting cash and loss of cash in transit. One was an instance of a Jeweller transporting cash to buy gold in Chennai market and another bizarre incident of bank transporting cash in a hired van.

All establishments handle huge amounts of cash – these could be cash drawn for payment wages, salaries, petty cash; business collections taken for depositing into bank and more. This is exposed to perils of fire, burglary, snatching, hijack, robberies, armed dacoity & more…. There I had stated that the money from establishments would be taken through bustling highways, crowded streets – may not always be in the best possible manner. It is also common knowledge that all Insurers offer protection of ‘cash whilst inside the premises (in safe) and whilst in transit’. Many of what is written in the earlier piece seems very relevant when you read of this loss.

There are many famous robberies of cash loss : - The Securitas depot robbery on 21/2/06 involving £53,116,760 (about US$92.5 million at the time of the robbery) in bank notes from a Securitas Cash Management Ltd depot in Vale Road, Tonbridge, Kent. The 2004 Northern Bank robbery in Belfast, Northern Ireland, US $1 billion stolen from the Central Bank of Iraq in Mar 2003 are some.

But this one occurring in the most crowded area of Chennai has shocked many.

Pothys is a very famous textile shop situated closer to the Panagal park on the busy Usman Road. On 3rd of July 2010 (Sat) at around 12.30 noon, in a daring robbery four persons on motor bikes intercepted a car, assaulted passengers and robbed them of Rs.81,00,000/- It was reported that the staff of Pothys textile showroom were on their way to a bank in nearby Mahalakshmi Street when the gang attack took place. It perhaps had been meticulously planned or had some insider information and was all over in a few minutes.

The public watched in daze as the gang reportedly used iron rods to smash the windshield of the car, pulled out the driver held the two staff (reported in papers as Mohammed Ali & Shahul Hameed) at knife point and snatched a suitcase and bag containing cash, fled the scene. Newspaper reports also stated that none of the passengers raised an alarm and before the onlookers could even realize, the assailants had escaped with the booty. Newspapers also stated that the shop used to change their time and used different vehicles, yet the robbers knew that it was huge amount if not exactly how much.

For business men and common public, this area is the commercial capital where crores of hard cash is transacted every day. Sure each establishment would have its own arrangement and means of protecting safely their hard earned currency. Many traders are believed to move money silently without involving police or other security. For some the bank officials come with full security and collect the cash.

The Saturday event certainly would force them to rethink on the way they have been transporting their cash for ages.  BUT no arrangement can be foolproof and it is certainly wiser to have appropriate insurance protection – though the Insurers also would be wary of providing cover for huge amounts in transit. Insurance is a transfer of risk and Insurers profession is to offer protection by appropriately evaluating the risk and assuming cover on specified terms and conditions, subject ofcourse to payment of premium.

As it is often said, there are lessons to be learnt for everybody and wise ensure that history does not repeat itself.

With regards - S Sampathkumar.


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