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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

11 lakhs looted from IOB Triplicane ~ is it a Heist ?


Triplicane  bustles with activity ~ Triplicane High Road has so many shops that you would find people on the streets all the time.  Common sense tells that there will be lesser crimes in a crowded locality !!!  Triplicane is famous for banks ~ in and around Bharathiar Salai [Pycrofts Road] – especially on the Triplicane High road, Bharathiar Salai and Big Street, there are so many bank branches ~ and all of them are crowded all the time.  Half a century ago, opening a Bank account was cumbersome and an account-holder was respected ~ not any longer, as all have accounts, [do all of us have so much money !] – some have multiple bank accounts.

This morning Times of India, Chennai Edition has this newsitem on its first page – [found in many other papers too…] ‘Gone in 30 seconds: Man loots 11 lakh from city bank’ .  TOI reports :  In an audacious heist on Wednesday, a man entered an Indian Overseas Bank branch in Triplicane, strolled past employees and filched bundles of currency notes worth 11 lakh from a cashier’s table.

There were six employees in the bank when the thief struck but none of them noticed the heavy-set man — wearing a tennis cap low to hide his face — as he casually sauntered to the cashier’s table and stuffed the money into a bag, police said on Thursday.    Investigators said CCTV footage showed that the man entered through the main door at 2.40pm and left at 3.11pm. He was in the bank for 31 minutes, but it took him less then 30 seconds to enter the staff area, take the money and walk out.

Bank staff discovered the cash missing hours later when, before closing in the evening, they found that 11 lakh could not be accounted for. They checked footage from the cameras and saw the thief taking the cash. Thief spent 30 mins in bank but staff failed to notice him. 

It sure would have been a shock for the officials of IOB seeing the  footage from security cameras ~ money vanishing before their eyes or rather money vanishing but they failing to even see that in person.  Employees  apparently oblivious to the presence of an outsider, who coolly  stuffed 11 lakh from the cashier’s table into a bag and calmly exited the bank.  It seems like a meticulously planned operation.  The criminal perhaps was aware of the way the staff rest after lunch, the place where camera was kept and more.

In most branches, the banking hours close around lunch say 10 am to 2 pm.  After that, the banking staff check the cash, account, finalise the banking transactions and close for the day. It is not unusual to let regular customers inside even after the banking hours and attend to them for non-cash related transactions. Though there are areas beyond bounds for customers, regular customers do walk in everywhere and perhaps there is an air of assumed casualness.

Here, somebody had perhaps planned his act, walked in, spent time at the bank branch, noticing the activities of the people, entered the cashier’s bay and took out cash……….. possible ~ cannot be denied as the occurrence would testify ! ~ sure there was negligence, casual approach, procedural lapse, breach of security and more.  Newspaper reports suggest that there are three counters in the bank. An employee was reading a newspaper in the first counter when the thief struck !!!!!!  The chief cashier had collected money from all the counters and  had placed it on his table. Procedurally, this should have been ‘safe-keeping’ out of bounds for any outsider, obviously public had had access ~ how else can one explain the loss ?   Though the incident purportedly has been captured in CC tv footage, it is stated that the  face of the suspect is not very clear as it is covered with the cap; perhaps he was aware about the placement of the cameras. 

Like all other Business houses, Banks also avail Insurance protection.  There is a specified coverage known as ‘Bankers’ Blanket Policy’ which inter-alia covers loss or damage of :

•           Of money or securities belonging or held in trust by the bank inside the premises - by fire, riot and strike, burglary and housebreaking, theft robbery or hold up
•           money in transit against the risks of snatching / robbery
·                    money in transit (financial Instruments and money being misappropriated by negligence or fraud of  employees)
•           By forging or alteration
•           By dishonesty /infidel acts of  employees resulting in pecuniary loss)
•           and more……..

One of the exclusions, is ‘loss resulting wholly or partially from any negligent act or omission of the insured employee’ ~ whether this loss would fall under such exclusion will have to be studied. 

Away, I personally feel the TOI reporting is as a ‘heist’ is not proper.  The common meaning of “heist” is a robbery from an institution such as a bank or a museum, or any robbery in which there is a large haul of loot. Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear. Though definitions could vary between jurisdictions, primarily robbery from simple theft in its use of violence and intimidation.

There are further types of robbery such as :armed robbery involving use of a weapon and aggravated robbery, dacoity and more.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
28th Dec 2012.


PS :  the mystery deepens………  Dinamalar further reported that from the CC TV footage, it was observed that one of the employees slyly took some bundles and put them into his pocket, when the cashier was not around ! – a clear case of infidelity. whether the entire episode was so stage managed or some unknown person did step in to take huge amount is not clearly known. 

strange are the ways of people.  From Insurance perspective, Blanket policies would provide sectional coverage for ‘infidel acts of employees’ too – when opted for.  Here the liability of the Insurers would be for the net amount arrived after all possible recoveries from the errant employee and after institution of disciplinary action including suspension / termination, when warranted.  

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