Special Correspondent

TAMBARAM: Chennai Suburban Police have arrested 16 persons, including seven women, on charges of stealing cellphones from a godown in Kaattupakkam near Poonamallee.

Briefing reporters on Wednesday, Chennai Suburban Police Commissioner S.R.Jangid said the action followed a complaint from an official of the godown - a warehousing and distribution centre of mobile handsets – that 820 Nokia handsets were missing on January 1.

Special crime teams tracked down three youths — Murugan, Parthiban and Nagarajan. On interrogation, they said that they had committed the crime with 13 others. The group managed to gain entry into the godown on the night of December 28 and managed to steal cartons containing 520 handsets.

They returned on January 1 and stole 300 more handsets. Mr. Jangid said the culprits had managed to gain entry into the premises by breaking open the roof and with the help of their accomplices sent the consignment of the handsets outside.

They had hired autorickshaws, paying as high as Rs.3,000 to the drivers for a few hours to transport the handsets to the city fringes, where they planned to sell them. Their accomplices, including the women, helped them in taking the consignment out the godown. The entire consignment of the 820 mobile handsets, all of them basic models, was recovered intact.

The names of the others involved are Irudayaraj, Murugavel, Kuppu, Ijaz Ahmed, Latheef, Vivek, Mary, Dharani, Santhi, Muthulakshmi, Sasikala, Fathima and Ammu.

The group had earlier struck at the same godown and had robbed consignments of vanaspati oil. In similar operations elsewhere, the group had robbed edible oils in the city fringes, said V.Varadharaju, Deputy Commissioner of Police, St. Thomas Mount.