New Delhi, Feb 7 : They are not technical enough to siphon off money from your account as cyber criminals sitting at a distant location in Jamtara in Jharkhand do, yet they are smart enough to uproot an entire ATM machine in localities in populated neighborhoods in the heart of the capital.
However, there is a difference - the cyber fraud depends on you falling in the trap and they cannot harm you physically whereas the ATM looting gangs can even open fire once confronted or challenged.
In recent times, the Delhi Police has launched a major offensive against the ATM busting gangs in the capital with the specialised units like Special Cell and Crime Branch also engaged in neutralising these gangs and the gang members.
The gang members spray black paint on CCTV cameras after entering ATM booths. They open the ATMs with the help of gas cutters and remove the cash cabins. After removing cash, they used to throw parts of the ATMs to avoid being caught. The accused use various vehicles including SUVs in the commission of these crimes in Delhi. Sometimes, they even uproot the machine by tying it to their vehicle and flee with the machines.
Last year in March, a gang tried to uproot an ATM from Jamia Nagar's Okhla Vihar but faced stiff resistance from the residents after which the gang members had to flee, leaving the ATM machine behind but not before firing rounds at the residents. Luckily, no one was injured.
On February 3, the Delhi Police Special Cell arrested a gang member who was involved in multiple cases of ATM loot. The accused Liyakat had 12 cases of breaking into ATMs and taking cash in Delhi.
"Members of this gang siphoned off cash amounting to Rs 1.35 lakh from these 12 ATMs. They used to spray black paint on CCTV cameras after entering ATM booths. They used to open the ATMs with the help of gas cutters and remove the cash cabins," said P.S. Kushwah, DCP Special Cell.
Further interrogation of the accused revealed that Liyakat is no ordinary criminal but is involved in about two dozen cases including cases of attempt to murder, assault on police, hurt, criminal intimidation, Arms Act, cattle smuggling, theft etc in Delhi and Haryana. He has been committing crimes for the last 7 years.
On February 4, the Special Cell arrested a criminal identified as Shahid after exchange of fire near Kalindi Kunj-Sarita Vihar road near railway line in southeast Delhi. Shahid received a bullet injury in his leg.
Shahid is a notorious robber of Mewat area and he has been regularly committing crimes in Delhi-NCR and other states for more than 20 years. He is wanted in more than 10 new cases (unsolved) of breaking into ATMs in these states. In Delhi, he is involved in 10 cases and is wanted in two cases of looting ATMs and taking away cash amounting to Rs 60 lakh.
The increasing number of cases of ATM theft has set the Delhi Police in action and the cops are now developing intelligence inputs over the functioning of these gangs and the active and dormant gang members in Delhi and NCR. Senior police officers are also regularly holding meetings with bank officials and encouraging them to take preventive measures like installing hidden cameras, strengthening ATM base and deploying armed security guards at the ATMs.
(Zafar Abbas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)