Depositors nervous after fatal shooting

Updated: 2012-01-12 08:07

By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)

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SHANGHAI - The demand for police escorts to ensure safe cash withdrawals is on the rise following a deadly shooting and robbery in Nanjing last week.

The service, provided by police or professional guard companies, is becoming popular in Jiangsu's provincial capital and other parts of China as police track the suspect, who is believed to be responsible for a number of similar shootings and robberies across the country.

The Nanjing episode, during which a male depositor was shot to death and 200,000 yuan ($31,700) yuan stolen, raised residents' concerns about security in the country where gun violence is exceedingly rare and almost all firearms are in State hands.

"We are always super-busy at the year's end," said an official of Jindun, Nanjing's largest security company.

The company has launched a special service to meet the surging demand for escorts of residents who are withdraw large amounts of cash from financial institutions, the official said on Wednesday, asking not to be identified and declining to disclose related figures, citing company discipline and security reasons.

A manager surnamed Huang at Nanjing General Security Service Company's Baixia branch said his company is ready to provide personal security, though it does not specialize in the service.

"Some people feel unsafe making transactions at banks when the killer is still at large," he said. "Transactions made at remote bank outlets could make them feel especially uneasy."

Nanjing police also provide free security for those withdrawing more than 50,000 yuan in cash from banks.

The 110 police hotline service said on Wednesday that the service is available to everyone in Nanjing until at least the beginning of China's Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan 23 this year.

Those in need of the service should alert police ahead of time.

In Guilin, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, police launched similar services following the Nanjing shooting and escorted at least one depositor who carried 300,000 yuan in cash to a local bank on Sunday morning, according to the Guilin Evening News.

Residents and companies were also on high alert.

"We arrange more people and designate cars when withdrawing a huge amount of cash these days," said Zhang Wenhua, the head of a mechanics company in Nanjing. "I also told the cashier not to choose bank outlets in remote areas."

More than 13,000 police officers in Nanjing and other cities are still searching for the suspect, believed to be 42-year-old Zeng Kaigui, a former armed police officer.

So far the total rewards for clues has been raised to more than 1.95 million yuan, including a 200,000 yuan reward recently announced by police in Ma'anshan, Anhui province, 78 kilometers from Nanjing.

A number of well-known crime experts from Jiangsu and nearby provinces have gathered in Nanjing to crack the case. Hundreds of reports of clues were handed over but some turned out to be pranks.

"I have confidence in Nanjing police capturing the suspect," said Ji Alin, deputy bureau chief of Taizhou police and a noted crime expert of Jiangsu.