Many such gangs from the State had targetted passengers on long-distance trains

Two men who had stolen cash and gold jewellery from passengers travelling in long-distance trains in Tamil Nadu were arrested by the Government Railway Police, Tambaram, on Thursday.

The arrest is the culmination of investigations that began early last year.

S. Prabhakar, inspector of police, GRP, said multiple gangs, based primarily out of Haryana, had struck in long-distance trains, especially targeting passengers in the A/C and first-class compartments. The GRP had been investigating these cases.

A few weeks ago, they were able to get specific leads. According to Mr. Prabhakar, after narrowing down the regular movement of a few passengers with North Indian names by going through several passenger information charts, they began to track the suspects.

On Thursday, a passenger, Sajath Begum of Seven Wells, Chennai, reached Tambaram by Kanyakumari Express. She later realised her jewellery had been stolen and informed GRP, Tambaram.

The police, on going through the details of other passengers, suspected the involvement of two North Indians travelling in the same S6 coach in which Ms. Sajath was travelling. The police cornered the two men who were sleeping in a coach of an express train that was in the yard between Chetpet and Egmore Railway stations.

The men — Mehboob Singh (32) of Hissar district, Haryana, and 25-year-old Ashok Kumar of Bhiwani district of the same State — confessed to robbing Ms. Sajath. Jewellery weighing 40 sovereigns that had been robbed in other cases was recovered from them.

The men had booked tickets to travel in the Grand Trunk Express from Chennai Central to New Delhi. A group of men would split themselves into teams of two and book tickets simultaneously in different classes, particularly during the festival season.

They would select their targets at random and once they disembarked, the men would assemble at the alighting point.

They would divert the attention of the passenger by picking up a conversation, while a couple of others, in less than a minute, would open the luggage, pull out the purse or bag containing the valuables and replace the luggage intact, without the passengers noticing.

With cutting pliers, a sharp instrument and some iron cables, they would open locks in a jiffy and leave the spot.

According to Mr. Prabhakar, in a circuit beginning from their hometown and passing through different States, including West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the gang would rob anywhere between Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 20 lakh worth of gold jewellery and cash.

According to the GRP, there are more than 15 known and confirmed gangs from Haryana engaged in such property and crime offences on trains.

Each gang’s strength varied from 8 to 16 men, Mr. Prabhakar said. Making quick money, the offenders would pass off as suave co-passengers, helping their potential victims with errands like offering to move their luggage from the compartment to the platform. They would wear expensive clothes and accessories and only speak in their mother tongue.

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