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01 Dec 2023, Edition - 3062, Friday

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Worker atop coconut palm locates ATM burglar, all five in Rs 24L heist nabbed

Vidyashree Dharmaraj


The age-old adage that a coconut palm will not ditch came true when a coconut plucker ascended a palm to nab a main accused who had stolen Rs 24 lakh from an ATM.

A group of five burglars broke open the IndusInd Bank ATM near Tidel Park in Coimbatore using a gas cutter in the early hours of Sunday and decamped with the money. It was a six-hour hot chase before the cops managed to get them from Nammakkal district. They were then brought to Coimbatore and lodged in the Central Jail.

It all started after the forensics team from Coimbatore procured the finger prints of the accused from the scene of crime and a special team was constituted to nab the culprits. The accused stole the money anytime between 1.30 am and 4 am. The police arrived at this as the last transaction was of Rs 200 by an unidentified man at 1.10 am. According to police, the accused had used masks, downed the shutters of the ATM, sprayed foam on the CCTV camera and later disconnected it before using gas cutters to cut open the front side of the ATM.

Initially, the tipoff on the burglary was given by a taxi driver from Peelamedu, the area where the ATM was situated. A case was then registered by the Crime Branch and initial investigations revealed that they were in Kerala. The special team reached Kerala on Tuesday and monitored their movements stealthily. But the team lost track of the culprits near Dindigul and alerted their colleagues there and in Karur and Namakkal districts.

Based on an information that the cars in which the accused travelled crossed Karur district today at 3 am, Namakkal Superintendent of Police A Arul Arasu constituted a team of 50, including three DSPs, five Inspectors and 10 SIs. The team conducting checks at Keerampor check post in Nammakkal district sighted a speeding car with Haryana registration coming towards the checkpost. When they attempted to stop it, the car broke the barricade and fled.

In a James Bond-style chase on the highway, the cops waylaid the car some 10 km from the checkpost near Bommaikuttamedu. The three accused in the car however escaped and ran into Palapatty, a village there. As it was 4 am, lack of light was a hinderance.

At the check post, the cops apprehended two others from a car with Delhi registration. Inquiry revealed that those in the other car were their partners in crime.

As the three had run into a thickly cultivated agricultural land, the cops were struggling to locate them and engaged a drone to scan the vast expanse. A couple of villagers informed them that one of the accused was sighted running towards an individual house a few yards from the field. On suspicion that he could be on the terrace, the cops got a coconut plucker to go up palm to have a clearer view.

The man on top of the palm did it and the cops nabbed him and the drone helped in locating the other two who were also apprehended.

The arrested were identified as Salman alias Munarak (30) and Zuber (19) from Rajasthan, Amithkumar (35) from Haryana, Mustaq Idris (32) from UP and Zulfigrie (25) from Bihar. Just like a scene out of the Tamil flick `Theeran’, the accused used Google maps to travel places and a mini lorry loaded with groceries and cooking materials accompanied them. They stopped by to cook and eat.

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