Robbers set sights on customers at banks

Police warn motorists not to leave money in plain sight after a series of break-ins to vehicles to grab cash.

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SHARJAH // Bank customers are being urged to be on their guard when making large withdrawals following a series of robberies in which cash was stolen from cars.

Sharjah Police recently arrested two Arab men suspected of following residents from banks and breaking into their vehicles to steal the money they had withdrawn.

“Some clients took out large amounts of money and left it in their cars,” said Col Ibrahim Al Ajill, acting director of Sharjah CID.

“When they came back – from their offices or home – they found the money was gone.

“We urge residents to use online services instead of manual withdrawal of money,” said Col Al Ajill.

If you do need to use cash, he said, be watchful of your surroundings when leaving the bank and report anything suspicious to the police.

It is not the first time such crimes have been committed.

Police have responded to several similar incidents in recent years, in both Sharjah and Ajman.

In 2013, five Arab men were arrested in Ajman after a bank customer returned to his car to find his window smashed and the bag containing the money he had withdrawn missing.

In 2012, six Afghan men were arrested for robbing customers as they left banks.

During one theft, the gang took Dh138,865 from a man outside a bank in one of Sharjah’s industrial areas.

A gang of seven African men were arrested for stealing Dh1.1 million from a businessman in Dubai.

After withdrawing the money from the bank, the man had put the cash in an envelope on the passenger seat of his car and headed to his home in Sharjah. As he was getting out of his car one of the gang snatched the envelope and fled.

In 2010, three Colombians were arrested after following a customer from the bank and robbing them when they parked outside a shop in Al Qasimia Street in Sharjah. They smashed the car ’s windows to get at the money.

Indian driver Raj Singh, who makes withdrawals from banks each day as part of his job, said hearing about these cases means he takes extra care when carrying out his work.

“Part of my job is to deposit and withdraw money for the company,” said the 47-year-old.

“If I am withdrawing a large sum, I make sure that I have somebody with me for extra security.”

He said he would never leave money unattended in his car.

“I can not risk getting the money stolen, the consequences might be dire,” he said. “I have never left money inside my car while running errands.”

Egyptian Hasaneen Abbasi said he receives and sends money back home to his family each month and takes precautions when he visits the bank.

“I am a cautious person. The amounts of money I may receive or send might not be much but I keep it hidden,” said 26-year old accountant.