Planned over nearly one year, reportedly with liberal inspiration from the globally hit Netflix show ‘Money Heist’, a bank robbery near Mumbai has thrown up details no less intriguing than a binge-watch-worthy web series.
The inside job has been solved with the arrest of five people and the recovery of Rs 12 crore from them, the police said this week. They had earlier found Rs 22 crore at the ICICI Bank branch in Thane during their probe into the heist in July this year.
Altaf Shaikh, 43, the main accused in the case, has been arrested and Rs 9 crore was found from him, the police said. He used to work as a custodian of the vaults at the bank and had plotted the elaborate heist. His sister, identified as Neelofer, has also been arrested, they said.
“Shaikh, a resident of Mumbra, had been working with ICICI Bank as a custodian. As the custodian, he was the caretaker of the bank’s locker keys. He spent a year planning the heist, studying the loopholes in the system, and gathering tools to pull it off,” a police officer at the Manpada Police Station said.
During the probe, police found that Shaikh planned the entire heist by widening the AC duct to sneak out the cash into the garbage chute and tampering with the CCTV footage, he added.
“After deactivating the alarm system and sabotaging the CCTV, Shaikh had opened the bank vault and transferred the cash to the duct and below to the chute. The incident came to light after the bank realised that the security money was missing, as were the DVR of CCTVs, which prompted its personnel to call the inspection team,” the official said.
With technicians informing authorities that the footage was stored online as well and realising his plan was falling apart, Shaikh fled the scene with around Rs 12 crore. The remaining Rs 22 crore was discovered under a tarp at the bank.
He spent the next three months on the run, changing his looks and using a burqa to hide his identity. Shaikh’s sister Neelofer, who was aware of his movement, hid some cash in her home. She has been charged as co-accused in the case and arrested, the police said. Shaikh was finally arrested from Pune on Monday.