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Thieves use tunnel to loot cash, gold from Indian bank

Brazen robbery is a loss for the customers for which bank is not responsible

Gulf News

Mumbai: In a brazen film-type robbery, thieves dug an 8-metre tunnel to reach the locker room of a Bank of Baroda (BoB) branch in Navi Mumbai and prised open customers’ lockers to loot gold and cash.

The robbery is a loss for the customers, for which banks are not responsible.

Some safe deposit locker owners at various banks said they were now worried as they now fear that banks are also unsafe.

The incident took place at a BoB branch in front of Juinagar railway station, most probably between Saturday and Sunday, when banks remain shut for the weekend.

“The suspects dug up an underground tunnel of 25 feet [8 metres] to the locker room of the Bank of Baroda and broke open 30 lockers out of the 225 and escaped with the loot. The valuation of the looted property is yet to be done as we are taking statement of the locker owners,” said Hemant Nagrale, Commissioner of Police, Navi Mumbai.

The theft came to light when a bank official and customer went to the locker room on Monday morning and were shocked to see lockers open and jewellery boxes, pouches and personal effects strewn on the floor and a gaping hole in the ground. Though there was a CCTV in the bank premises, there was none in the locker room.

The burglars burrowed the tunnel starting from a rented shop, whose owner had gone to Jharkhand due to illness, passing under two shops including a security agency office and reaching into the locker room.

They could not break open the bank’s main safe vault in the treasury room, officials said. They may have taken a few months to dig the tunnel with its ceiling supported by plywood sheets and bamboo so that it would not cave in.

In June this year, PTI reported that in a Right to Information (RTI) query by a lawyer, it was revealed that customers cannot expect any compensation for theft or burglary of valuables in safe deposit boxes of public sector banks as the locker hiring agreement absolves them of all liability.

The report said all bank locker agreements state, “The bank will not be responsible for any loss or damage of the contents kept in the safe deposit vault as a result of any act of war or civil disorder or theft or burglary and the contents will be kept by the hirer at his or her sole risk and responsibility.”