Thrissur: It was by sheer luck that the robbery bid at the ATM of State Bank of India (SBI) in Thrissur district was foiled. In fact, the cries of a child in the dead of the night helped thwart the attempt.
Two youths who targeted the unguarded ATM counter have been arrested. The arrested are Prajith, 25, of Thrikkadeeri and Rahul, 23, of Vaniyamkulam in Palakkad district. Wearing helmets, the duo had reached the spot in a car during the wee hours of Monday.
The ATM is located at Paramelpadi on the border of Thrissur and Palakkad districts. It is a small junction with several houses and the ATM is housed in a building adjacent to one of the residences. Opposite to the ATM counter is a block of apartments.
A resident of an apartment on the first floor was woken up by his child's wailing around 2.30 am on Monday. The child's father 36-year-old Sugnesh noticed unusual light and movement at the ATM counter. He saw that two persons wearing jackets, gloves and helmets were using a gas cutter. Realizing that they were thieves, the man alerted his neighbours. Immediately, all the residents switched on their lights.
The thieves sensed that something was amiss and abandoned their attempt to loot the ATM. They soon fled from the spot. It was later revealed that the ATM contained Rs 15 lakh in cash. Had the man in the apartment been even 10 minutes late to respond to nature’s call, all this money would have been robbed. Strangely, neither a warning alarm was heard nor alert message received during the break-in.
The thieves escaped from the scene in a car. They took a narrow bylane and stopped the vehicle 300 m from the ATM to abandon the gas cutter, gloves and other equipment. They then drove to the main road in haste but the car landed in a drain on the roadside.
The thieves attempted to extricate the car from the drain but did not succeed. At that time, an autorickshaw passed that way and its driver saw the thieves. However, as he was rushing to hospital with a patient, the auto driver did not attempt to help them bring the car back to the road. Even then, the auto driver did speak a few words with the thieves, not realizing that they were fleeing from the scene of a crime. They spoke good Malayalam with a Thrissur slang, he said later.
The auto driver also clearly saw the face of both thieves and the police have decided to draw sketches based on his description. None of the apartment residents had seen the face of the thieves as the latter were wearing helmets.
Meanwhile, the police checked the registration number of the car and found that it was fake. The vehicle was probably stolen, said officials.