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90 lockers broken open in Gulshan bank heist

90 lockers broken open in Gulshan bank heist

KARACHI: In another bank heist, robbers broke open as many as 90 lockers of a commercial bank and walked off with cash and jewellery worth over Rs10 million in a Gulshan-i-Iqbal locality, police said on Monday.

They said that a private security guard of a Meezan Bank branch near Disco Bakery and his accomplice were involved in the offence.

Gulshan SP Abid Qaimkhani said that according to the footage of a closed-circuit television camera installed outside the bank branch, the guard, Nawaz Gul, arrival at the bank at about 6.55pm on Sunday for his night shift.

He said that the same camera caught another man entering the bank at around 10.15pm, but nothing was recorded inside the bank since the guard put pieces of adhesive tape on the lenses of the around 10 CCTV cameras.

The SP said both suspects worked the whole night and used a welding gun to break open the strongroom of the bank and to cut the lockers.

He said that there were more than 100 lockers and it appeared that the robbers could break open 90 lockers by the morning.

They used a backdoor, which opened into an apartment complex near Disco Bakery, to escape.

According to a rough estimate, SP Qaimkhani said, the robbers made off with cash and jewellery worth over Rs10 million. But the exact amount could only be ascertained after assessing claims of all locker holders, he added.

He said that the private security guard, who originally hailed from Parachinar, changed his clothes and left the uniform in the bank. The police got some property documents in the pockets of his uniform and it appeared that these were stolen from the bank lockers.

He said that he had earlier quit the security company, but rejoined it in November 2014.

The Gulshan SP said that raids had been conducted and three persons, including the roommate of the guard and the official in charge of the private security firm, were taken into custody for questioning.

The roommate told the police that Nawaz Gul was a tuberculosis patient and recently he had asked the operations manager for money for his treatment.

Last year in April, some half a dozen armed robbers seized a lone security guard of an MCB branch in Soldier Bazaar, broke into the facility and broke open all the 60 lockers carrying cash, jewellery and property documents, etc, before leaving the place after eight-hour robbery. A month later, Karachi-East SSP Pir Mohammed Shah claimed in a press conference to have arrested three suspects and recovered some of the looted assets from their custody.

Locker holders stage protest demo

Hearing the news of the heist, scores of men and women reached the bank branch to inquire about their belongings.

They staged a protest demonstration and chanted slogans against the bank management for alleged negligence.

They said that besides the security guard some other bank staff must have been involved in the theft.

The protesters said that even if the bank staff were not involved, the incident demonstrated their negligence and carelessness as they hired the services of the security guard without any background check.

They demanded immediate return of their assets.

SBP regulations not being followed

In June 2007, the State Bank of Pakistan directed the commercial banks to ensure safety of lockers by adopting certain safety measures. However, it appears that they are not being followed properly.

An SBP circular had noted that “some banks are reluctant to honour the claims with regard to vandalism of lockers by the security guards or by their employees. This is being attributed to a clause in their agreement with the insurance companies, which restrict them to honour such claims”.

According to the SBP circular, the banks/DFIs shall ensure that safe deposit locker rooms in their respective branches are adequately secured from all sides; in case the bank branches are providing safe deposit locker facility in areas where security agency on the PBA approved panel is not available, the bank/DFI shall carry out due diligence at the branch for the appointment of their own security guard(s); the banks/DFIs shall review their existing insurance agreements and shall obtain comprehensive insurance with clear cut “Cap Limits” on various sizes of lockers at competitive rates from the insurance companies ready to cover the act of vandalism of lockers both by the security guards and employees of the banks/DFIs; the banks/DFIs shall properly convey the terms & conditions (including size, rent/p.a, insurance ceiling etc) to the existing locker holders / new locker holders. Consent of all existing/new locker holders shall be obtained for the insurance ceiling, etc.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2015

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