Masked men loot jewellery mart of valuables worth ₹13 cr.

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In a daring heist, burglars wearing fancy children’s masks decamped with gold, diamond and platinum ornaments from a branch of Lalithaa Jewellery near the busy Chathram Bus Stand in Tiruchi in the early hours of Wednesday, after gaining entry into the shop by drilling a hole in the wall.

The jeweller estimates that ornaments worth ₹13 crore were stolen.

The heist came to light when staff opened the well-guarded jewellery showroom around 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

CCTV footage showed two men wearing hooded jackets, masks and gloves moving around the showroom. They had drilled a hole on a wall on the side of the building, which is adjacent to the grounds of the St. Joseph’s College, to gain access to the ground floor of the showroom. The burglars took all the gold, diamond and platinum ornaments on the ground floor of the three-storey jewellery mart and escaped through the same route they took to enter the premises.

On receiving information, Tiruchi Police Commissioner A. Amalraj and senior police officials rushed to the spot to launch an investigation. Superintendent of Police, Tiruchi rural, Ziaul Haq, also visited the crime scene to obtain first-hand information on whether the heist bore any similarity to the burglary that was reported at Punjab National Bank in Bikshandarkoil near here in January, which is yet to be cracked. Forensic experts and sniffer dogs were pressed into service.

Though the burglars went around all three floors of the showroom, they focused only on the ground floor, where high-value gold, diamond and platinum ornaments were on display. They had spent nearly 90 minutes inside the showroom. The police suspect the involvement of at least four persons in the crime.

Speaking to reporters later in the day, M. Kiran Kumar, chairman and managing director, Lalithaa Jewellery, claimed that around 800 pieces of gold, diamond and platinum, worth around ₹13 crore, had been stolen. He said he was confident that the police will be able to crack the case and retrieve the stolen goods.

‘No link with PNB heist’

Mr. Amalraj told The Hindu that there had been “some basic inputs” on the heist. Several teams had been formed to nab the culprits, and the case will be cracked soon, he said.

Wednesday’s burglary was not similar to the one which took place recently at Punjab National Bank, as the modus operandi adopted in the two crimes were different. However, investigation will be carried out from all angles, Mr. Amalraj said.

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