Punjab National Bank, Modinagar Branch (Ghaziabad) suffered a great loss, when burglars, sometimes over a weekend drilled two-foot hole into the wall of the strongroom of the bank. They entered through the entry they made and stole valuables and money from 30 lockers. The exact amount of money that had been stolen is not confirmed yet but it can easily run into crores.
The branch is located on NH-58 and is adjacent to an L shaped plot on which sits an abandoned rubber factory. On this plot, an empty office is right behind where the bank’s strongroom is, sharing a common wall.
The burglars entered this office, and cut the hole in the common wall, which is about nine inches thick, at a height just above where the lockers end.
The loss was discovered when a bank staffer, Anil Bhargav, and the head cashier, Ajay Kumar, opened the strongroom on Monday around 9:45am.
Ajay Kumar, opened the strongroom which has two security doors.The steel door of the strongroom can be opened with a set of two keys, kept in the custody of these officials, only when they are inserted together into the keyholes.
After opening the steel door, the officials were about to open the next door which is an iron grille like those found in prisons. However, they noticed through the grille that things had been scattered inside the strongroom. They also noticed that several lockers seemed to have been broken. They immediately called up the police control room, They then informed the police about the robbery.
Bank officials said there has been no security guard at the bank. “The strongroom had been closed on Friday around 6pm. The bank was closed for two days after that. A security alarm is also installed inside the strongroom apart from a CCTV camera. Even if the alarm went off, there was no one to hear it since the bank was closed. There was no security guard at the branch. The branch depended on police patrol vehicles for security,” said S.K Pancholi, assistant general manager.
There are total 435 lockers in the bank out of which 96 are not in use at present, burglars managed to open only 30 lockers, but it is evident that they tried to open other lockers too. The burglars also stole a double-barrelled gun kept inside a steel cabinet inside the strongroom though the iron chest containing the bank’s cash reserves had been left untouched.
Senior officials of Ghaziabad police reached the bank after receiving the call, along with a forensic team and a dog squad. Fingerprints have been lifted from the scene.The bank operates out of a rented building which once belonged to the now-abandoned Modi Rubber Factory .According to officials, the building has now been sold to Haryana Distelleries which has continued with the rent agreement.
On the other side of the bank is a building which houses the office of Modi Spinning & Weaving Mills Employees’ Union. Cops used the ladder of a fire engine to enter the compound of the abandoned factory whose walls are at least 30-feet high.
According to cops, the room from which the burglars had drilled the hole contained a small steel almirah, a table and a typewriter which are also in derelict condition. Police said the burglars had broken the cement-concrete of the nine-inch-thick wall with the help of hammers and pickaxes while its steel frame was cut open with the help of blade saws. The equipment has been recovered by police from the spot.
Scores of anxious customers thronged the bank throughout Monday. Valuables worth crores are allegedly missing from the lockers.Many complained that their entire savings have vanished.
An FIR was registered in Modinagar police station on Monday on the basis of a complaint registered by bank officials.