Correspondent

CUTTACK: The Cuttack police have busted an inter-state heavy vehicle lifter racket and have eight persons in this connection, including three from Andhra Pradesh. The police have also seized seven theft vehicles from their possession. More arrests and more recovery of stolen vehicles cannot be ruled out; police said adding that investigations into the case are on.

Briefing newsmen here on Thursday the city DCP Mr. Amitendra Nath Sinha said the racket was operating in the State and Andhra Pradesh for over a year now.

The kingpins of the racket were one Ramesh Barik of Biswanathpur village under Balianta police station of Khurda district and one G. Jagannath Rao of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

Both the kingpins have been arrested and one Indica car, one Ashok Leyland truck (ten-wheeler), four tippers and one Tata truck (six-wheeler) were recovered from them, the police said.

“There modus operandi was very simple. Barik had engaged a gang in Orissa who were stealing, robbing and snatching the vehicles from various parts of the State including Balasore, Dhenkanal, Jajpur and Paradeep.

The vehicles were passed through the Orissa-Andhra border and were headed straight to Visakahapatnam”, Mr Sinha said.

“Jagannath Rao after receiving the theft vehicles was making minor changes to their physical structure and preparing fake documents, including fake registration numbers and was selling them to local clients”, the DCP said adding that the 10-wheelers were sold at Rs 3.10 lakh and tippers were sold at Rs 2.10 lakh.

The racket was busted after Chauliaganj police arrested Ramesh Barik from the locality in connection with a theft of an Indica car, said Chauliaganj police inspector S. K. Mohapatra.

“Subsequently, Barik’s close associate Tapas Dey alias Kalia of Cuttack Sadar was picked up who gave vital clues about the operation of the racket”, he added.

Cuttack police then formed a special squad comprising three more inspectors who under the leadership of Mohapatra went to Andhra Pradesh and seeking the help of local police raided the hideout of Rao. “While six theft vehicles were seized from Andhra Pradesh itself, another vehicle was seized from Pipili in Puri district”, Mohapatra said.

Acknowledging the cooperation extended by Andhra police in busting the racket, the Cuttack DCP profusely thanked his Visakhapatnam counterpart saying without the help of local police the seizures and arrests would not have been possible.