Daring heist by masked men at Punjab National Bank Tiruchi branch

Tiruchi: In a major heist, masked men broke into a public sector bank and decamped with cash and jewellery from five lockers at Samayapuram in Tiruchi.

The incident came to light this morning when the manager and staff of Punjab National Bank, located near Samayapuram Tollgate close to the National Highway, reported for work after the weekend holidays.

The burglars gained entry into the bank by making a hole in the rear side of the wall, and using a gas welding machine, broke open five lockers and escaped with the booty.

The value of cash and jewellery stolen from the lockers was not immediately known. The culprits had left behind the gas welding machine, a cylinder, a hammer and other items, in the bank before fleeing from the spot.

Senior police officials, including Central Zone IG V Varadharaju and the District Superintendent of Police visited the spot and held preliminary inquiries.

Sniffer dogs, along with fingerprint experts and forensic experts visited the spot. Police were analysing the footage recorded in the CCTV camera and said special teams were formed to nab the culprits.

It was not clear when the incident took place as the bank was closed for two days, though police, going by the remnants present on the spot, believe that the heist could have been committed last night.

Police sources said the main locker in the bank was safe and that five lockers belonging to individuals were broken.

The bank has declared a holiday for the day following the incident.

As news spread like wildfire, anxious customers, some of them weeping, thronged the bank to know whether their lockers were safe. They also wanted the bank to reveal the locker numbers that were broken.

The bank officials urged them to disperse with the promise that the owners of the locker, which was broken, would be informed over phone.

However, the customers refused to leave unless the bank officials confirmed that their lockers were safe.

The shocking incident came at a time when the police were probing three bank heists in and around Samayapuram in the recent past. Reports received here said about five years ago, the same bank’s ATM was broken by miscreants and cash was stolen.

NT Bureau