The gunpoint robbery of gold worth Rs 7 crore from a finance firm in a Tamil Nadu city centre in broad daylight last week could easily rival the plotline of a Hollywood heist movie.
According to newly emerged details, the gang that robbed Muthoot Finance’s Hosur branch in Tamil Nadu on Friday morning by threatening the employees at gunpoint was led by a 22-year-old student
The gang did months of planning, including preparing a route map before the heist, the police said. They robbed 25.5 kg of gold and Rs 96,000 in cash from the branch in a timeframe of 15 minutes.
The count of those arrested by the Hyderabad police in the case now stands at seven. The Tamil Nadu police have launched a hunt for two more people.
The arrests were made possible by a GPS system that was embedded in the bags containing the gold that were robbed.
The gang robbed the Muthoot Finance’s Hosur branch on Friday morning by threatening the employees at gunpoint. The robbery, which was as dramatic as a Hollywood movie, was led by Roop Singh Bhagal, 22, a student who hails from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.
The Cyberabad police arrested gang member and Roop Singh Bhagal’s brother Shankar Singh Bhagal; Pawan Kumar, Bupender Manji, Vivek Mandal, all hailing from Ranchi in Jharkhand; and Thekram and Rajiv Kumar from Meerut in the case.
Roop Singh Bhagal stayed in Bengaluru for three months and chose Muthoot Finance in Hosur for the robbery. He planned the robbery by reaching Hosur and preparing the route map by filming video on his mobile phone.
On Friday, six people arrived in three bikes at the Muthoot Finance branch. Two men stood guard outside with guns, while two others took employees hostage. The remaining two forced the manager to open the lockers and stole the gold and cash. They completed the robbery in just 15 minutes.
The group then went back on their bikes, which they abandoned at the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border. They had already arranged for a lorry and an SUV, which was parked at the spot. The gold was put in a secret compartment in the lorry. The lorry and the SUV then sped towards Jharkhand.
The Krishnagiri police realised that the robbers were headed towards Hyderabad based on the GPS system that was embedded in the bags containing the gold. They obtained the vehicle numbers of the lorry and SUV from toll plaza records and they immediately relayed the information to the Hyderabad police.
The robbers were nabbed by a team of more than 200 armed policemen led by Hyderabad commissioner V C Sajjanar. They arrested the five people who were travelling in the SUV at the Tondupally toll gate near Shamshabad. They took the lorry into custody from another toll plaza. The police also recovered the 25.5 kg of gold and seized seven firearms and 86 rounds of ammunition.
Special bags with GPS helped police track robbers
The suspects were apprehended by the police by following the GPS signal from the bags. The Tamil Nadu police were shocked when they received information about the gunpoint robbery.
Recognising the seriousness of the robbery, the Krishnagiri district police chief formed a special team of smart officers and launched an extensive investigation. As Hosur lies at the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border, the help of the Karnataka police was also sought.
Meanwhile, the police learnt from their investigation at the Muthoot Finance branch that the robbers had fled with the special bags that were used to store gold in the lockers. Their next move was to track the signal from the GPS-enabled bag. They received a signal on Friday night itself that indicated the bags were in Anekal in Karnataka.
Even though the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu police conducted joint and extensive inspections, they could not detect anyone from the gang. Later, the GPS signal indicated that the robbers were moving towards Hyderabad. The police also detected signals from mobile phones suspected to be of the robbers along the same route from where the GPS signal was emanating.
As the signal kept moving, the police realised the robbers were headed towards Hyderabad and sought the help of the Telangana police.
The robbers were arrested after the police rounded their vehicles near Shamshabad outside Hyderabad city. The police recovered the robbed gold and seized weapons, including firearms, used in the robbery. It is learnt that the accused were being taken to Hosur after the completion of the proceedings of the Telangana police.