Professor falls for an old trick, loses cash and more

Staff Reporter

Conman warns of diesel leak, gets lucky

58-year-old Urmila Devi says it did not strike her that her vehicle was petrol-drivenTargets normally are people coming out of banks or those in markets and other areasSpecific criminal groups operating in Villivakkam and Ramji Nagar in TiruchiSuch gangs had operated in Ambattur, Vyasarpadi also

CHENNAI: It took little to divert Urmila Devi's attention. In the time the 58-year-old college professor got out of the driver's seat to check a `diesel leak', she had lost her mobile phone, credit card, driver's licence and cash to cover her tax instalment.

According to the complainant lodged by Ms. Urmila Devi, she panicked when a motorcycle rider drove up near Flowers Road in Kilpauk and said there was a "diesel leak" at the back of the car. "I didn't strike me that my car ran on petrol. I went ahead, parked on the side and got out to check," she recalled.

All she noticed was some oil on the back wheel and took the car to a garage on Casa Major Road. As she was running late, Ms. Urmila reached for her cell phone only to notice her handbag missing from the front seat.

"I am on the verge of retirement. I came to Chennai so I can finish my paperwork during the vacation. I was on my way to file the tax and pay a loan instalment," said the Tiruchi law college professor after filing a complaint on Monday afternoon. According to Ms. Urmila Devi, while the police were explaining the `attention diversion' modus operandi to her, another woman driver came to the station with the same complaint. Senior law enforcement officials say the `diesel leak' is just a new twist to an old trick to rob people. "There are specific groups from Ramji Nagar in Tiruchi and Villivakkam here who specialise in such methods. They normally target people coming out of banks or in markets and other crowded areas," said a senior official. "We arrested an 18-member-gang from Ramji Nagar in the beginning of 2006 and recovered close to Rs. 8 lakh. Similar gangs have operated in areas including Ambattur and Vyasarpadi," recalled the officer.

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