National Bank hit by city’s first bank heist of 2018

National Bank hit by city’s first bank heist of 2018

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KARACHI: Employees at the Golimar branch of the National Bank of Pakistan received a nasty shock on Monday morning when they arrived at work at 8:30am and found that over two dozen lockers were broken into and their contents stolen.

Dozens of customers were deprived of millions of rupees worth of jewellery and other valuables but apparently, foreign currency and diamonds remained untouched. The employees immediately informed their superiors and then the police.

A security guard, identified as Saddam Khan, who was deployed at the bank on security duty is believed to be the prime suspect in the case. Saddam, apparently with the help of an accomplice, his maternal uncle Momin Khan, broke into the locker area on the bank’s ground floor and opened 27 of the 200 lockers using gas cutters.

The bank’s staff revealed that Saddam, who hailed from Swat, had been posted at the bank for the past four days. “He was deployed at the bank for security duty in the day shift,” explained the bank manager, Abdullah. “But the robbery incident occurred during the night shift.”

As news of the robbery spread, a large number of customers gathered outside the bank, demanding they be given back their valuables. Most of the lockers were rented by retired citizens who had kept their life savings in the lockers for safekeeping. “It is not our problem. It is their responsibility to give our jewellery back to us,” decried a locker holder, Wakeel Ahmed.

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Many customers had placed jewellery in their lockers for upcoming weddings in their families. “My sister’s wedding is coming up soon. It was not safe enough to keep the jewellery at our house, which is why we kept it in the bank locker,” explained Nasir Zia, another locker holder. “Now banks are not safe either, so where should we go to keep our valuables?” he demanded.

The police are trying to ascertain why the security alarms installed in the locker area did not go off. They said that they were trying to ascertain if the robbers switched off the alarm through some technical method or whether it was the failure of the alarm company. Legal action would be taken against the security company if it is confirmed during the course of investigations that the security alarm system was not functioning, said the police.

They have also obtained the fingerprints from the crime scene, which they hope will help trace the suspects. However, officials said that they were not able to obtain proper prints due to the use of the gas cutter.

This marks the city’s first bank heist of 2018. The year 2017 saw eight heists.

The branch is located in the Golimar area that falls within the Rizvia police remits in District Central. Bank and police officials claimed that the branch was looted in between Sunday and Monday night by one of its own security guards and his accomplice. They said the suspects entered the bank and took eight hours to loot the lockers.

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“Saddam Khan, the suspect, along with his maternal uncle – Momin Khan – broke into the bank late Sunday night, gaining access to the locker room where they successfully pried open 27 lockers,” said Nazimabad DSP Muhammad Mobin. “The two men only took jewelry from the lockers, leaving the cash untouched but nothing can be said conclusively until complete details are gathered.”

The robbers also took with them the closed-circuit television camera footage and locked the main door of the bank before they left. Police officials said that the robbers tied up the night shift security guard and he was released when the bank was opened on Monday morning. The guard, Hidayatullah, was taken into custody by the police for investigation.

Law enforcers are still searching for Saddam and his accomplice. The police have registered an FIR, No 6/18, on behalf of the bank manager against the suspects and initiated further investigations.

Sindh Inspector-General of Police Allah Dino Khawaja has sought an inquiry report from the Crime Investigation Agency DIG and West DIG over the incident.

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