Abebaw Bekele, who has been working as a security guard at the Bank of Abyssinia’s (BoA) Tele Medhanialem Branch for the past couple of months, has been telling his colleagues that he won a 60,000 Br tombola lottery.
He was also telling them that he will receive the money from the National Lottery Administration on July 7, 2018, and will append it with the 35,000 Br cash he has in his account and a 30,000 Br credit from his sister to set up a grinning mill at his hometown located in the North Shoa Zone, Oromia Regional State. None of his co-workers suspects that his words would be false as most of them describe Abebaw, unwed, as a gentleman. Describing his neat attire, along with his gold necklace and ring.
As he has been casting this information to everyone around him for the past couple of days, he did the same on the morning of June 12, 2018, when the Bank was heisted. He told the same story to two of his co-workers hired by ABC Security Agency and other guards working for Puccino’s Coffee, a coffee shop located on the same building of the bank, hours prior to the incident that turned the area into one of the robbery scenes from a movie.
Nearly 6:00 pm, the door of the bank was closed and most of the Bank’s employees had left, except for three. The three bankers, one of whom was a lady, were doing their regular jobs including counting cash, checking and clearing their daily transaction before leaving to go home. The two other guards went out for dinner, following Abebaw’s advise.
“His two co-workers went out for dinner after he assured them he would stay at the bank until they return,” one of the witnesses told Fortune.
It was perfect timing for Abebaw and his colleagues, who were planning to rob the bank.
Suddenly Abebaw and two off-comers, one with a knife and the other with a reddish sack, got into the bank. The one with a knife ordered the three employees, in the bank, to switch off their phones and give it to him. Abebaw and the fellow, who is also the driver, just rushed to the spot where the bank reserves its cash. They packed the sack with 5.67 million Br and rushed out of the bank.
During their exit they ran into two individuals, however, one of the burglars with a knife frightened them in order to escape. They then jumped into their silver coloured 2004 model Vitz automobile, which was parked at the gate of the bank with the face turned to the road. In a dash, the car heads to the road towards Bole Medhanialem Church.
While they leave the bank, technicians who were installing an elevator for the new building in front of the bank and a shoeshine boy, who also has a small kiosk beside the bank, started screaming, according to eyewitnesses. The shoeshine boy also informed the police about the robbery. Police reached them before they left the area, as the road was congested. While noticing they are being followed, the burglars drove on the wrong side of the lane. Their car was caught after crashing into three automobiles. Abebaw and the driver escaped, but the remaining individual with the knife was apprehended.
Another team of Police, with a staff of two, went to the bank while the other team was chasing the car. A friend of a guard, who had switched shift with Abebaw’s team, was locked inside one of the rooms that the robber’s had the key to. The polices later set the person free after breaking the door. The two guards who had went out for dinner arrived while the polices were checking around and they were arrested immediately.
“When the police entered, the three bank employees were panicking and shivering,” said one of the eyewitnesses. “Especially the lady.”
The next morning police had arrested additional suspects, according to Fasika Fenta (Com.), public relations director of the Addis Abeba Police Commission. But he refrained from giving further details stating that the case is under police investigation.
A bank robbery was rare in the capital for the past decade, according to Fasika.
“This could be the first of its kind since then, as we have not encounter such an organised bank burglary,” he told Fortune.
“The cash was returned to the bank the same night, and the branch resumed operations the next morning,” said Aschalew Tamiru, marketing, communications & operation manager at BoA. “There was no property damage, and no person was injured during the incident.”
BoA has opened a branch at this location close to two years ago. The one-story building was previously home to Kaldi’s Coffee, as the first branch of coffee house franchise. The guards claim that they were not feeling safe in the area as the place has tense activity.
“We have been asking our agency for additional staff per shift,” one of the guards who wanted to be unnamed told Fortune. For one shift the agency assigns three guards.
When the paper went to print, the master of the robbery Abebaw, was not detained.
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