Police officers check a hole in the floor of a Chinabank branch in Quezon City yesterday after robbers dug a tunnel from a manhole (right) meters away from the bank over the weekend. BOY SANTOS
MANILA, Philippines — Millions of pesos in cash and other valuables are feared lost after robbers hit a Chinabank branch in Quezon City over the weekend by digging a tunnel from the drainage canals.
A group of robbers, tagged by police as the “Termite Gang,” was able to enter the bank at the corner of Camaro street and Commonwealth Avenue in Barangay Greater Fairview through a tunnel that connects to drainage canals outside the building.
The bank management has yet to disclose how much cash it had but police said the robbers looted the main vault and about 40 safety deposit boxes.
Land titles were left in the deposit boxes but all cash and jewelry were stolen.
The robbery was committed between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2 while there was a guard who stood at his post outside the bank, according to Senior Inspector Allan dela Cruz, head of the theft and robbery unit of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).
The tunnel, which could fit only one man at a time, was excavated a few inches from the main door of the bank and about three to four meters away from the main drainage canal outside the building.
The excavation could have been finished in a night by experienced miners, Dela Cruz noted.
No alarm, no video
After the robbers were able to gain entry, they targeted the alarm box, which they pulled from the ceiling before disconnecting the DVRs, which record surveillance footage.
The two DVRs were found by police drenched in water in the drainage canals during their investigation.
Dela Cruz noted that he was told by security personnel of the bank that the main headquarters can view real-time surveillance footage but they do not record it.
The robbers then proceeded to open the main vault through the emergency hatch before setting their sights on the individual safety boxes they opened using crowbars, later recovered by police in the canals.
Dela Cruz said they are not ruling out an inside job as there are indications that the robbers knew the layout of the bank and how to disarm the alarm and DVRs.
The theft and robbery chief also noted that an “alarm” shutting down the system of the branch was already noted at exactly 2:21 a.m. on Saturday but police were not notified.
He added that bank officers also admitted that they could not get in touch with their security personnel despite the alarm.
Superintendent Tomas Nunez, Fairview station commander, said they were only notified of the robbery yesterday at about 7:30 a.m. when the tunnel was discovered by bank officers.
Nunez said the entry point could have been about a hundred meters away from the bank after they found a manhole with its cover opened along the busy highway of Commonwealth Avenue.