The Tiruchi Rural police who were on toes for sometime now following a spate of highway robberies reported along the Tiruchi-Namakkal main road have reason to feel relieved after arresting an eight-member gang on Tuesday.
Barring one, the rest of the accused, alleged to be involved in the highway dacoities, hail from neighbouring Namakkal district. All are first-time offenders, police sources said.
Gold jewellery weighing nearly 11 sovereigns, a cell phone, wrist watch, a pair of sharp weapons and two cars purportedly used for committing the crimes were seized from the accused by a special police team.
Four cases of highway dacoities in quick successions along the Tiruchi-Namakkal main road in the district in the recent past prompted the law enforcers of Tiruchi and Namakkal districts to join hands in cracking the case by constituting special teams.
Of the four teams constituted, three were headed by Inspectors attached to Tiruchi Rural and one by Namakkal Inspector. Three dacoity cases were registered in Kattuputhur police station and one in Thottiyam.
In one such instance reported last month, the victim was a Mumbai resident who was travelling in a car to Velankanni from Mumbai when a six-member gang that followed in another car without a registration number plate intercepted the vehicle and robbed gold ring and a cell phone from him.
In the other incident a few days ago, an eight-member car-borne gang intercepted a car of Karnataka registration near Mickelnaikenpatti and robbed gold bangles and rings from the occupants.
Pursuing the case, one of the special teams headed by Thottiyam Inspector Kumaresan was conducting vehicle checks on the Namakkal-Tiruchi main road at Elurpatti diversion on Tuesday afternoon when a Tiruchi-bound car without a registration number plate was stopped. As the information given by the eight occupants was found to be contradictory, the team quizzed them further and determined their involvement in the highway dacoities, according to the police. They reportedly confessed to have committed the crimes by travelling in cars without registration number plates, the police further said.
A senior police officer said the modus operandi of the gang was to strike during night hours targeting cars of other States in which the occupant was either travelling single or with a woman. The deserted stretches favoured the gang to strike the victims.
The gang leader V.Muralidharan (24) owned a cell phone shop and a beauty parlour in Namakkal, and two members of the group were taxi drivers, while yet another member was into vehicle finance business, the officer said.
Investigators say the palm prints lifted from one of the vehicles of the complainants tallied with one of the accused. This was the first time that spate of highway dacoities had been reported in the district in the recent years. All these offences were reported in the stretch from Namakkal border to Thottiyam, say police sources. The stolen property was recovered from the residences of the accused in Namakkal. The whereabouts of Guna, another accused in the dacoity cases, is not yet known. The arrested accused were produced before Judicial Magistrate court at Musiri on Wednesday and remanded in judicial custody.
The dacoities have occurred despite deployment of a highway patrol vehicle along the Tiruchi–Namakkal highway. As a sequel to the crimes, the patrol vehicle has been alerted. In addition to that there is also a proposal to establish a check post at Mickelnaikenpatti in the district and close to Namakkal border to act swiftly when such incidents get reported, say the sources.