Man who robbed banks “to repay loans” held

A young man who allegedly robbed two banks to repay his loans, after learning a few tricks from the internet, has been arrested by the city police here.

The man had incurred heavy losses in his business venture in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The accused was identified as Soumya Ranjan Jena (25), of Tangibanta village on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. He robbed the two bank branches from where he had secured the loan, both located within three kilometres from his house.

“He had borrowed ₹19 lakh from the banks for an apparel and shoe shop. He was able to pay back ₹6 lakh. Our investigation found that his business transaction ranged between ₹9 lakh and ₹10 lakh per month before the lockdown. However, after the lockdown he found himself in a debt trap,” said Sudhansu Sarangi, Commissioner of Police for Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, on Monday.

“During the lockdown, he started watching videos on YouTube to learn how to carry out bank robberies. He bought an air-gun. Since he knew how the banks functioned, it was easy for him to target the two branches,” said Mr. Sarangi.

“He looted ₹12.34 lakh from the two banks. We have recovered ₹10.76 lakh from him. He told our investigator that he had no intention of robbing more. But our assessment is that he would have continued committing such crimes because it was easy money,” said the police chief.

He deposited ₹60,000 in his loan accounts and said he was planning to pay back the loans in phases to avoid suspicion. Police said the man belonged to a well-to-do family and had no previous criminal antecedents.

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Cracking the case was not easy for the city police. Going by the crime records, bank robberies in Odisha are usually committed by miscreants from other States and they work in groups. Since the young man spoke Odia language and CCTV footages showed him being alone, police suspected that he was someone trying to enter the world of crime.

“It was a blind case. Police had no clue,” said Mr. Sarangi.


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