Befriended train passengers, then stole from them

A gang of eight, who travelled on trains and stole valuables from passengers, apprehended by the government railway police at Katpadi railway station on Sunday, used original photo identity cards to book their tickets.

Inspector-general of police (railways) R. Arumugam said the suspects even disclosed their original mobile phone numbers on the reservation forms. “They used to book tickets well in advance to get confirmed accommodation. While four travelled in air-conditioned coaches, the others used the sleeper class. After targeting a vulnerable victim, they would try to befriend the person and offer him or her snacks, books or drinking water. Even after committing the theft, the two groups would travel to the train’s final destination to avoid any suspicion. The booty was usually exchanged, so that they did not get caught if intercepted,” he said.

Appealing to passengers not to entertain strangers offering food/drinks, Mr. Arumugam said travellers should also be wary of any person volunteering to help in shifting baggage. “If something suspicious occurs, passengers should feel free to call the toll-free number 9962500500 and police officers spread across in trains and railway stations will arrive at the scene within minutes,” he said.

Investigators found several confirmed tickets in the gang’s possession. The tickets were booked in the Chennai-Bangalore, Chennai-Tiruvananthapuram and Chennai-New Delhi sectors. “In the present case, we intercepted the gang on the Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram Express,” Mr. Arumugam added.

“The gang had implements to strategically remove valuables from baggage without much noise or damage. The suitcase would appear intact after the theft,” Mr. Arumugam said and added that passengers carrying valuables on trains should be extra vigilant and secure their belongings using chains/locks.

The special team led by deputy superintendent of police (Egmore) Thillai Natarajan, was felicitated by additional-director general of police (railways) R. Sekar.

All the eight suspects were produced before a judicial magistrate in Tambaram and remanded to judicial custody, the police added.

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