Tambaram police bust gang stealing from ‘hijacked’ export containers

It colluded with truck drivers taking goods to shipping yard

September 07, 2022 12:21 am | Updated 12:21 am IST - CHENNAI

Amal Raj, Commissioner of Police, Tambaram, inspecting the seized goods  at Tambaram on Tuesday.

Amal Raj, Commissioner of Police, Tambaram, inspecting the seized goods at Tambaram on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

The Tambaram police have busted a gang that targetted containers moving to shipping yards for export and stole goods worth several lakhs of rupees from those containers using a unique modus operandi.

On August 18, about 14,400 kg of finished pharmaceutical materials, worth around ₹94 lakh, were loaded into a container truck and transported from a company, PharmaZell (India) Private Ltd., in the Madras Export Processing Zone (MEPZ), Tambaram, to the Ennore port for being sent to Germany.

Officials found 4,800 kg of the goods missing from the consignment that was unloaded at the port for customs clearance and loaded back into the container before being sent to a ship.

A representative of the company lodged a complaint with the police. On the instructions of Tambaram Police Commissioner A. Amalraj, two special teams were formed, under Deputy Commissioner of Police M.R. Sibi Chakravarthy, to probe the theft. It was found that criminals had stolen goods worth ₹98 lakh without removing the seal of customs by carefully unscrewing bolts.

Explaining the modus operandi of the gang, Mr. Amalaraj said, “Our investigation revealed that a seven-member gang colluded with container truck drivers who were regularly transporting the goods from private companies to the shipping yard. After making payments to the drivers, the accused persons ‘hijacked’ the trucks laden with export goods to a private yard in Minjur for two hours where they unloaded the goods after unscrewing bolts without removing the seal. Later they closed it and handed over the truck to the driver. They attempted to sell the stolen goods at cheaper rates.”

The police arrested Sathish Kumar, 27; Maran alias Ilamaran, 29, of Tiruvarur district; Karthik, 40, of Thiruvottiryur; Muniyandi, 36, of Tondiarpet; and Gouri Shankar, 32, of Burma Nagar. A search is under way for two more persons. Goods worth ₹2.75 crore were recovered from them.

The Commissioner said the gang had looted pharmaceutical products worth ₹1.50 crore from containers transported from the MEPZ in the last one month, 3,000 pairs of shoes transported from Ambur, and keyboards worth ₹50 lakh sent by a company at Thiruporur. They also had stolen 1,800 pairs of footwear being exported to Italy from another shoe factory at Ambur last July and 1,000 pairs that were sent from a factory at Tada in Andhra Pradesh.

Mr. Amalraj said the export firms have been advised to verify the background of drivers who are engaged to transport the container trucks and their conduct. They also should instal global positioning system(GPS) and constantly monitor the movement of container trucks

In most of the cases, theft was noticed only after the consignments reached their destination. The goods travelled to several ports on their way and the companies were unable to find out where the goods were stolen and faced difficulties in filing complaints, police officers said.

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