Top police officer turns out to be leader of ATM robbers, absconding

ATMNEW DELHI: An ace investigator from Delhi Police’s crime branch had mysteriously gone missing for six months. But when the department finally got some news of him, it became a cause of deep embarrassment rather than relief.

The cop, Aslup Khan, is the alleged mastermind of a gang that robbed banks and ATMs in Kerala and is also suspected of having operated in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. A special investigation team (SIT) of Kerala Police recently arrested one of the gang members, Suresh (37), in Delhi. Alappuzha district police chief V M Muhammed Rafeeq said Suresh was travelling in a Swift car when he was arrested on Kasturba Gandi Marg.

Khan, a resident of Mewat, was attached with the RK Puram unit of the crime branch. He had gone on a month’s leave on December 15. Later, he extended his leave for one more month. That was the last the department heard of him. Khan was suddenly suspended and his salary was withheld.

Days later, his role in the robberies was revealed after the Kerala cops arrested Suresh. Suresh, a resident of Karnal, spilled the beans on Khan and his other associates. Suresh said he had initially met Khan as an informer.

According to police, Khan’s gang had looted ATMs located at Cheriyanadu, Kazhakoottam, Ramapuram and Kanjikuz. Suresh’s role was to travel across Kerala and spot ATMs located in isolated areas which had no security. Khan and Suresh then chalked out the escape routes. Other gang members were proficient in ATM operations as they had a precise idea of the location of the cash and were careful not to burn the currency while using a gas cutter to get to the cash box.

The gang usually stayed at a hotel near the ATM and observed the movement of people and cash before striking.

The gang used mobiles with utmost care and switched them off at intervals. They also took care not to be spotted in ATMs’ CCTVs. The car used by the criminals had the number registered to an ambulance which was earlier used at the Thiruvananthapuram airport.

Before crossing Kerala, the gang used to change the number plate with a Haryana registration. Khan, being a cop, claimed to be on an operation if flagged down at any check post. The cops, however, found that the same vehicle was around Kazhakootam ATM just before it was looted. The cops then fetched details of all mobile numbers active in the area to get to the suspects.

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