Five days after a massive burglary in which 2 kg of gold jewellery and Rs. 24.5 lakh were stolen from a house in Tondiarpet, police suspect certain members of the family were involved in the crime.

The owner of the house, a wholesale grains and groundnuts merchant, Chairman Sami (65), had gone on a trip to Ooty with his extended family when the burglary took place. He returned on Sunday, to find his house looted.

Police believe Sami’s estranged wife and some members of her family, including her son, were behind the burglary, one of the biggest in the city in recent times.

A property dispute within the family may have been the motive, they said.

Sami and his wife have been living separately for the past two years, after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. The couple have two children, both of whom live with Sami.

Recently, Sami’s wife had been asking him to return all her jewellery, and also to pay for her monthly expenses and treatment. But Sami had refused to give her anything, police said.

The involvement of the family was first suspected as the burglars broke into only two cupboards — one in which the keys to all the other cupboards were kept, and another that had all the valuables and cash, a senior police officer said.

The burglars also went straight to the second floor, though the family occupies both the first and second floors, he added.

“We found two fingerprints at the crime scene other than the fingerprints of Sami’s son, S. Jayachandran, whose fingerprints were found on the damaged cupboards. But Jayachandran was in Ooty with his father when the crime was committed,” the officer added.

Another indicator that pointed to the involvement of insiders was the fact that the house is on Pandalai Salai, a busy area with a market nearby, not ideal for outside gangs to target.

The neighbourhood also houses several prominent politicians, making it difficult for strangers to come in unnoticed.

During the investigation, sniffer dogs and forensic experts were roped in.

“Eight special police teams were formed to investigate the case. Two teams went to Coimbatore and Tiruchi, but these leads were not conclusive,” said the officer.    

More In: Chennai | News