Customers protest, demand stolen gold back

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MUMBAI: As news of the gold robbery at Manappuram Finance‘s Ulhasnagar loan branch spread, hundreds of worried customers reached the branch to demand their valuables back.

Priya Sasmal, who had taken a loan of Rs 4.5 lakh by depositing 4,500 grams of gold, said, “I took money to construct my home, but am worried weather I will get my jewellery back.” Another customer, Manoj Amilvade, with a loan of over Rs 8 lakh, said, “I deposited my family gold to buy a car. I am now concerned if I will get it back.”

Rajshree Bhosale, who took a loan for her daughter’s marriage, said, “The bank did not have its own security guard for night-time! If they had, this incident could not have occurred.”

DCP (Ulhasnagar) Sunil Bhardwaj said the police are trying to locate the shop from where the burglars bought their equipment. Also, CCTV footage from nearby buildings will be studied.

The incident came to light on Monday morning when staff opened the branch. They found scattered documents and further ahead an open locker. They alerted their manager, Arvind Dinkar, who called the police. Only after Dinkar assured customers that their records are safe and they will get back their investment did the crowds gathered at the branch disperse. The firm’s management later released a statement confirming the same.
Mumbai police’s spokesperson DCP Ashok Dudhe said the majority of loan finance companies go for unarmed security guards to cut costs.”Companies dealing in huge amounts of gold or cash should alert the local police so that patrolling can be beefed up.Log books can be maintained at such places so that cops visit and sign at least twice a day to ensure security . Hardly anyone adopts such safety measures.Such companies do not even link their security burglary alarm system with the police.”
IPS officer-turned-lawyer YP Singh said that often the value of gold is substantially higher than the loan amount.”Most such establishments give loans that are usurious. The rates are much more than under a notification issued under the Maharashtra Money-Lenders Act. They say they are governed by the Banking Regulation Act and charge rates as high as 2% per month.”