But ended up getting caught almost every time he checked into five-star hotels claiming to know influential bureaucrats

Bedazzled by the lifestyle of the rich, a 31-year-old mechanical fitter decided to take a short-cut to luxurious living by checking into five-star hotels claiming to be the acquaintance of influential bureaucrats and decamping before the check-out date. He was arrested in Connaught Place on Monday.

Accused Sarthak Rao Babras, who hails from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, got a glimpse of the high life while pursuing a diploma course in Gujarat and later while doing another certificate course in Mumbai. However, when he could not get a job even after a long wait, he returned home in 1999-2000.

One of his friends allegedly rekindled his desire for luxurious living when he told him how he had managed to enjoy the hospitality of small lodges and hotels in Chennai and Kolkata by claiming to be acquaintances of those who frequented the hotels. Inspired by the story, Sarthak decided to first try his luck at a local luxury hotel posing as Sinclairs Bayview, but was caught by the police and made to cough up the dues.

Realising that he could not succeed in a small place like Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sarthak reached Lucknow in UP and checked into Hotel Taj and decamped. But he ran out of luck and was caught following a complaint by the hotel management and spent more than a year behind bars.

His marriage to his West Bengal-based girl friend in 2005 put a temporary stop to his unlawful activities. But Sarthak soon returned to his old ways. He was again arrested at Ahmedabad and jailed.

He then turned his attention towards Delhi and managed to check into Sheraton Hotel on January 15 claiming to be the guest of a senior Delhi-based bureaucrat. But he gave the game away when he provided a copy of his genuine PAN as identity.

While he was on his way to Nehru Place in the hotel taxi on January 16, he borrowed Rs.2,000 from the cab driver and when the chauffer informed the management about it they grew suspicious about his identity. A little search on the Internet and the management was shocked to find that Sarthak was a habitual cheater arrested several times for similar offences.

The hotel management shared the information with other five-star hotels in the city and found that he had checked-in at another five-star hotel before coming to Sheraton and reached another a day after checking out of Sheraton.

He was later arrested near Hotel Park in Connaught Place.