Rs.22.50 crore cash van heist solved, driver held

New Delhi: With the arrest of driver Pradeep Shukla, Delhi Police on Friday claimed to have solved within 10 hours the sensational bank van heist in which the cash van driver allegedly drove away with Rs.22.5 crore in cash.

“The biggest ever case of misappropriation from a cash van in the history of Delhi Police has been worked out swiftly,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Mandeep Singh Randhawa said.

He said Shukla, the main suspect in the case, was arrested from a warehouse in Okhla Industrial area in south Delhi around 3 a.m. on Friday within 10 hours of the incident.

Driver Shukla and gunman Vinay Patel, both employees with the Security and Intelligence Services (SIS), were tasked to deliver an amount of Rs.22.50 crore to the Axis Bank branch situated in Okhla office.

Police said Shukla and Patel on Thursday afternoon left in a van, bearing registration number DL-1LK-9189, from the Axis bank branch in Vikaspuri in west Delhi after collecting nine boxes containing in all Rs.22.50 crore in cash.

“As soon as the van reached near Sriniwaspuri around 3.41 p.m., gunman Vinay Patel deboarded the van to attend to nature’s call. Shukla then drove away with the vehicle,” DCP Randhawa said.

“When Patel called Shukla over his phone, he made an excuse that traffic police was not allowing him to park the van. After some time, he switched off his mobile phone.”

The official said that Patel then reached the bank’s Okhla office around 4.30 p.m. and narrated the incident to the branch in-charge Anand Kumar.

DCP Randhawa said Shukla, who resides in Kotla Mubarakpur with his wife and three children, took the van to a warehouse in Okhla, dumped the robbed money there and later abandoned the van near Govindpuri metro station.

“Shukla left the van near the Govindpuri metro station and fled the spot. The van was later found by a bank employee who then informed the police about the heist around 5.48 p.m. on Thursday,” the official said.

“Shukla’s next plan was to leave the godown but he was arrested.”

The police were able to pin-point Shukla’s position after back-tracking the movement of the van on the GPS system installed in the vehicle. The van had halted at the warehouse for a considerable amount of time — “and this called for a spot check of the place”, said Randhawa.

The official said that several teams were constituted in the case and one of the teams was sent to conduct raids at Shukla’s native place in Ballia in Uttar Pradesh and his relatives’ residences and other possible hideouts.