Patna, Feb. 8: A group of five women, who could be foreigners going by their facial features, cleaned out jewellery worth at least Rs 8 lakh from a Tanishq showroom on the busy Frazer Road this morning.
The operation in the heart of the city was at once audacious and swift as it took the gang just seven minutes to rob the high-end branded jewellery store owned by the Tata group.
The theft was captured on the showroom's CCTV security system but wasn't discovered until about 8-10 minutes after the gang of five had walked out with eight gold bangles, each costing at least Rs 1 lakh.
At 11.07am, the women, all smartly dressed in jeans, jackets and wearing a tad oversized caps, walked into the Tanishq store that had opened for the day around half-an-hour ago.
The store employs around 40 people, including salespersons and back-end personnel.
Once inside, two of the women went and stood near a counter whose salesperson in-charge, Anamika, was busy at a pre-work briefing inside. The rest scattered around, looking at jewellery on display at the other counters and engaging the salespersons in conversation.
Anamika pieced together the sequence of events for The Telegraph.
"While most of the counters were manned, the one which I am in charge of was empty. We have a daily briefing after which the team gets ready for the day. The morning meeting had just ended and I was getting ready when these women came in. After entering, they went over to different counters and my colleagues got busy in helping them. Two of the women stood in front of the counter next to mine which was manned. The women asked the salesman to show some jewellery. He got busy with them," Anamika said.
All this while, one woman continuously moved from one counter to the other checking out jewellery.
Around 11.13am, the two women standing in front of Anamika's counter made their move.
The salesperson next to her counter noticed the two women and started to go over when the duo he was attending to called him back. "One of our women staff members came out of the resting area and the two ladies standing in front of Anamika's counter requested for water for the group. She readily agreed and went back to fetch water. At this point, one of the women tried to pull out the sliding tray at the counter but failed. Our representative had returned with the water but the women now asked for lukewarm water. She again went back and this time the woman got her hands into the counter and picked up an entire set of eight bangles. After this, the group waited for a minute or so and then all of them casually walked out. The total cost of the bangles rests at Rs 8 lakh," Umesh Tekriwal, the store manager, told The Telegraph.
He said the women were well dressed and smart. "It seems they were wearing the caps and hats to hide their faces. They didn't look like Indians as they were speaking good English with a western accent as well as another language, which we didn't understand. We never imagined they were thieves as they were very well dressed," Tekriwal said.
The theft was noticed by Anamika when she got to her counter around 11.20am.
"Like everyday, I stood at the counter waiting for customers when I noticed a bangle set missing. I immediately raised the alarm. The women seem to be thorough professionals. They chose a time when the store had just opened and we were gearing up for the day," she said.
The police said the group was still at large.
"A team of cops has been sent to the Bodhgaya International Airport. Another team is making investigations at the Patna airport as well as the two railway stations. The CCTV footage proves that these women are professionals and the entire heist was planned carefully. They might have even done a recce of the place and old CCTV footage is being checked. All police stations in the state capital have been alerted and they are checking the hotels falling under their respective jurisdictions. Though they appear to have been foreigners, we can't confirm that at present," said Vivekanand, deputy superintendent of police (law and order).