The burglary might have become bigger but for this man

K. Manikandan

Kolapakkam heist is probably the biggest in recent times

CHENNAI: The burglary in Kolapakkam near Vandalur on Thursday is probably the biggest in recent times, considering the value of gold jewellery taken away. It might have been bigger, but for the presence of mind of a senior citizen D. Tirunavukkarasu.

A resident of Unamanchery, Mr. Tirunavukkarasu is a pushcart vendor dealing in fancy items. He said he did not get a good night’s sleep and turned restless. “It was about 4.30 a.m. when I came near the bus stop for tea. I heard the noise of someone banging a steel box using tools. I initially thought mechanics were working on a lorry. I gathered my courage and approached the bushes when I heard a voice threatening me not to come closer. I stood still and stones came flying from the bushes,” Mr. Tirunavukkarasu said, narrating those tense moments.

It was only then he confirmed that burglars had broken into the pawn broker’s shop nearby. “A small group of people gathered around me, but we were still hesitant to approach the bushes. Only after an encouraging turnout did we muster courage to go closer, only to see the abandoned safe,” Mr. Tirunavukkarasu said.

Mr. Tirunavukkarasu became an instant local hero whose effort was promptly acknowledged by the police too. Meanwhile, around 5 a.m., Vinod Kumar Jain received a call about the break-in at his shop. And around 6 a.m., a resident of Kolapakkam had called up the police control room to inform the incident. An hour later, a couple of them went to the Otteri police station. But the police personnel took more than two hours to come to the spot, residents charged.

The police said that nothing less than half-a-dozen men must have been involved in the robbery as the safe weighing about 650 kg was taken behind the bushes more than 100 feet away. Earlier, the burglars seemed to have little difficulty breaking open the four locks on the shop’s shutters.

“I got it [the safe] specially made in Rajasthan and brought it here,” said Mr. Jain. As they found it difficult to open, they broke it , police said. Mr. Vinod Kumar Jain said that he had kept gold jewellery worth about Rs. 20 lakh in the safe. K. Periaiah, Superintendent of Police, Kancheepuram district, said the exact quantity of gold jewellery stolen could be ascertained only later in the day.

A shamiana was put up around the safe in an attempt to protect foot and finger prints and other clues. Acknowledging Mr. Tirunavukkarasu’s role, police said that had he not raised an alarm, robbers would have taken away the smaller jewels such as nose studs, ear rings and ’metti’ and added they would push for a suitable reward to him.

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