Chennai

After a pan-India spree, their time is up

With the arrest of a man from Bihar in connection with a watch showroom heist on R.K. Salai last month, the Royapettah police have stumbled upon a watch smuggling gang that strikes in different cities.

On February 29, a few persons broke into Wrist World watch outlet on R.K. Salai and stole high-end watches. The theft came to light when the security guard found the shutters forced open.

The outlet owner Vinod lodged a complaint with the Royapettah police station. “Forensic experts were pressed into service and with CCTV footage, the intruders were identified. We found that they were from Bihar,” said a police officer.

Royapettah crime inspector Sathyaseelan sent the images to the Bihar police special team and confirmed the identity of one of the gang members — Manoj alias Chilphorwa. The police team rushed to Motihari district in Bihar and with the help of the local police nabbed Manoj from Virta Chowk of Ghorasahan of East Champaran district on Indo-Nepal border.

Two Tissot brand watches worth Rs 40,000 were seized from him. Mr. Sathyaseelan further said that the suspect admitted to have been jailed earlier for a year in connection with a theft case in Pune.

It was then the police found that it was not an ordinary gang of thieves. “The arrested thief has named 10 of his accomplices from Ghorasahan and the adjoining district of Sitamarhi. We’ve identified them and raids are being conducted to arrest them”, Ghorasahan police station Officer-in Charge Rajesh Kumar told The Hindu.

According to the Chennai police, the gang, whose members hail primarily from the Motihari and East Champaran districts in Bihar, have struck at watch showrooms across the country including Delhi and Bangalore. We suspect they were behind the watch heist in Adyar in 2013,” said a police officer.

The gang targets shops which stock high-end watches. “The watches are stolen and smuggled to Nepal through Bihar. It is believed there is a big smuggling racket based in Nepal,” added the police officer.

The Bhopal police had also raided Ghorasahan and arrested two members of the gang and recovered 32 stolen mobile phones worth Rs 4 lakh. Some of the gang members from Ghorasahan like Salim Bhan, Aslam Dewan and Mobin Dewan have taken shelter in Nepal.

Earlier, an arrested thief from Ghorasahan, Harinarayan Sah had confessed that his wife Sugiya Devi too is a member of the shutter-katwa gang, said the police official.

Many of the big shops in the city have stocks of high-end watches that cost up to Rs. 5 crore.

“Those shops situated in commercial areas should be insured, burglars alarms put in place and round-the-clock surveillance ensured,” said Kiran. G. Manek, past president of the South India Watch Dealers Association.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 6:21:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/watch-out-for-this-crossborder-gang/article8373690.ece

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