It almost sounds like something out of a “Three Stooges” movie. Thieves break into a bank after hours. They leave all the high-denomination bank notes behind, but they take all the low-denomination coins they can carry.
That is exactly what happened Aug. 22 at the Syndicate Bank branch in Mukherjee Nagar, North Delhi. Three burglars broke into the bank, taking 230,000-rupees (expressed in India as 2.3 lakh) value in 5- and 10-rupee coins. The perpetrators spent about two hours inside the bank. Police later recovered the coins in 46 polythene sacks. (The exchange rate on this amount equals close to $4,000 US.)
According to several reports, the three men broke the grill on a window to gain entry. The broken window was noticed by a bank employee the following morning.
An unnamed senior police officer was quoted in the Aug. 25 International Business Times as saying, “While breaking into the bank, they had ended up breaking two blades of a hacksaw they used to cut the window grille. The two broken blades and a plier left behind at the spot made us suspect it could be the handiwork of electricians.”
Camera footage of the break-in revealed one of the thieves has an “R” tattoo on his left wrist. This led police to the nearby Delhi Transport Corporation bus station, where a 21-year-old only identified as Rahul was arrested along with two accomplices, one also named Rahul and another named Anuj. All were employees of Delhi Transport.
The three admitted to hiding some of the coins on the roof of an abandoned building. Police reported, “They were unable to carry all the packets containing the heavy coins. So, they hid most of the coins under an empty white sack and carried along only five packets which contained roughly 10,000 rupees.”
The thieves later admitted to spending about 10,000 rupees to purchase “ganja and smack” (marijuana and heroin).
The big question is why the three men stole bulky metal coins but left behind much easier to carry paper-composition bank notes. A single nickel-brass composition 5-rupee coin has a weight of 6 grams. A single ringed bimetal 10-rupee coin has a weight of 5.62 grams. Assuming identical values of the two denominations were taken, this would suggest the total weight of the coins stolen is about 202,630 grams, which is 6,515 ounces or about 407 pounds.
According to police, “They said stealing bank notes, especially the 2,000-rupee notes, was not their plan at all as they believed that notes could be tracked through chips or GPS after demonetization. So, they decided to steal all the coins instead.”
No mention was made by police or the press that there are traceable serial numbers on bank notes. It is well known that some shopkeepers will no longer accept 10-rupee coins. Rumors circulated beginning in July 2016 that the current coins were fakes since they lacked the rupee symbol appearing on earlier issues.
The 2,000-rupee bank note was introduced in November 2016 when India Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetization of other high-value bank notes in an effort to flush out black market money.
On Aug. 24, two days after the robbery, India Finance Minister Arun Jaitley dispelled rumors that the 2,000-rupee bank notes were about to be demonetized as well, authorizing a new 200-rupee bank note at the same time. The new denomination was expected to be introduced either at the end of August or early September.
As for the bank robbers, according to the Aug. 25 issue of Dekh News newspaper, “They told the police that they had arranged the theft in the wake of watching wrongdoing spine chillers and heist films.
This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.
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