Mumbai

Jharkhand thieves who earned ‘salaries’ to steal phones held

Recovered loot: The police found the stolen phones in the gang’s store rooms in Panvel and Surat.

Recovered loot: The police found the stolen phones in the gang’s store rooms in Panvel and Surat.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Police seize 63 mobile phones; 3 gang members still at large

The Panvel City police have busted a gang of mobile phone thieves from Jharkhand who were paid a ‘monthly salary’ to flick phones off people.

The police have arrested two gang members and recovered 63 mobile phones worth ₹11.10 lakh from them. The main accused and two other members of the gang, which operated from Jharkhand, are still at large. Kundan Kumar Arjun Mahto (21) was arrested in the last week of October, while Aajam Jekku Shaikh (22) was arrested in November.

Observing a rise in mobile phone thefts in public places, the police set up a team to tackle them, comprising assistant police inspector Ishan Kharote and constables Babaji Thorat, Dilip Chaudhary, Dinesh Joshi, Pankaj Pawar, Rahul Salunkhe, Ajay Kadam and Raju Khedkar.

“There were no CCTV camera footage or any clue to go on. All we knew was that they targeted common people in crowded areas. During Diwali, our team laid traps at various public places,” Mr. Kharote said.

After laying one such trap at the flower market, the police team caught Mr. Mahto red-handed. “The modus operandi of the accused was to flick phones kept in the shirt pocket while the owner was busy doing something else. The gang used to assign different members to different areas. For instance, one of them would concentrate on railway stations. They worked as per the directions of their boss, who paid them monthly salaries. The salary started from ₹20,000, going up to as high as ₹1.5 lakh.”

The gang had rented two shanties, one each in Panvel and Surat, which they used as storerooms for the stolen phones. While arresting Mr. Mahto, the police found 16 phones in his possession, while the rest were recovered from the Surat and Panvel rooms. The accused used to sell the phones in Nepal and Bangladesh.

“As Indian cellular networks don’t work in these countries, it was not possible to trace the phones. They also got a higher price for the phones there. Three more accused of the gang are wanted,” Mr. Kharote said.

Senior police inspector Ajay Landge has appealed to people that they should avoid keeping mobile phones in shirt pockets.

The accused are currently in judicial custody.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 10:40:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/jharkhand-thieves-who-earned-salaries-to-steal-phones-held/article29966878.ece

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