There was a time when we wrote “living in Iran is like being inside a video game”. Now it is rather like being in a Hollywood movie.
As a kid, watching action robbery movies, my dream was to become a star thief!
“Not one of those ordinary robbers though”, I was describing to adults what my future job could look like, “but one of those super intelligent who steals something from Louvre Museum or something like that”.
It did not take long before I realize that this is not a proper profession for me.
However, for the thieves who have robbed Bank Melli this week, the dream came into action.
On Sunday, which was a national holiday, 250 safe deposit boxes at Bank Melli Branch next to Tehran University were robbed. The contents of 169 boxes were taken by the thieves who have left the bank via its parking, locking the doors behind them. They have also taken all the security cameras with them.
The next working day, when the bank personnel come to work they just notice the theft.
“I’ve got an alarm SMS”, said the branch manager, “but since the security system once in the while had sent wrong messages in the past, I did not take this SMS seriously”.
The manager and vice-manager have been removed and some suspicious personnel have also been arrested.
“To enter the safe boxes room, we had to pass through four doors”, explains a 67 years old gentleman who has lost all his capital which was deposited in one of the boxes. “After several security checks, you get 20 seconds only to put your key in the box and open it and if it takes longer, then you have to go out and repeat the whole process. So how could it be possible that without any considerable damage the thieves have succeeded to open 250 boxes in an hour or two?”
To calm down the affected depositors, Bank Melli initially announced that it will reimburse all the clients who have lost their wealth. However, later the Bank added that since the contents of the boxes have not been logged, the reimbursement process might be more complicated as the insurance does not cover it either.
People who have been affected claim that they have lost all their savings, whatever they had it in the form of gold-coins, jewelries or foreign cash.
Bank Melli now says it will reimburse 50% of their loss according to their self-declaration and the other 50% shall be decided by the court.
“From now on, I guess the best way to keep our wealth safe is to turn it into foreign cash and put it inside the matrass like our fathers”, says Shahla, a 59 years old lady. “This way the robbers who are using gold-detector cannot find the money”.
As the economic situation in Iran gets worse there are more reports about various robberies to residential houses using advanced equipment.
To prevent this, more and more people are using safe boxes at the banks. However, many may change their minds now.
“I have to go to leave for a short trip”, continues Shahla, “hopefully my properties will not be stolen until I come back. Then I go and take them from the bank. Part of it is my daughters’ jewelries. I’ve already told her that I will sell them and transfer the money to her abroad. She can put it in a bank there… At least it’s safe.”
All we can do is wishing her and other depositors all the best…