Car driver foils robbery, returns stolen safe to cops

If it weren’t for the timely arrival of an honest car driver at the scene of a robbery in progress, a cooperative milk collection centre office situated at a housing society off the Pune-Satara Road would have been poorer by Rs 17 lakh.

Rajesh Rathod, who works for a private firm as a driver happened to reach the Royal Arcade housing Society, where the Rajaram Milk Collection Co-operative Society office is, and noticed two unidentified persons wrestling with a heavy safe outside the building during the wee hours of yesterday. The thieves had broken into the office and as they were unable to open the safe, which contained cash and gold coins collectively worth Rs 17 lakh, they carried it away to try their luck far from the crime scene.

In safe hands: The safe containing cash and gold coins worth Rs 17 lakh that cab driver Rajesh Rathod (inset) handed over to the police.

Their plan went awry and they were soon caught in the headlights of the car Rathod was driving. Sensing that their luck had run out, they abandoned the safe outside the building and fled. Rathod soon realised what had happened and he along with the building security guard loaded the heavy safe in his car.

Early yesterday morning, Rathod handed over the safe to officials of the Sahakarnagar police station. The manager of the co-operative society realised that there had been a robbery in the office yesterday and reached the police station to lodge a complaint, which coincided with Rathod’s arrival to hand over the safe.

“One of my office boys went to open the office at 10.30 am and was greeted by a rude shock. He found lock on the main door of the office broken and partially ajar and immediately called me as he suspected that burglars had struck,” said B S Patil, the manager of the Rajaram Milk Collection Co-operative Society.

He added that the safe contained cash worth Rs 13 lakh and some gold coins. “When we were taking Patil’s statement, Rathod rushed into the police station with the safe and told us what had happened in the wee hours,” said Inspector (Crime) Rajendra Todkar of Sahakarnagar police station.

Speaking to MiD DAY, Rathod said, “I work as a driver with a private contractor. I had gone to the railway station to pick up one of our clients and dropped him at the Royal Arcade where he resides. While leaving the premises at 3.30 am, I saw two persons with their faces covered with handkerchiefs struggling with a heavy box. The two men got scared when I shone the headlights of the car directly in the faces, and the left the box and ran away.”

He added that he only realised that it was a safe when he got out of the car and investigated. “I then called up the person whom I had dropped off informing him about what had happened. He too told me to contact the police in the morning, after which I requested the security guard of the building to help to load the safe into the car and took it home.

Then I went to the police station and saw that a complaint was being registered at that time,” Rathod said. A relieved Patil told this reporter that he would be rewarding Rathod for scaring away the burglars and for being honest.

Suspects detained
The Sahakarnagar police have detained two persons, associated with the milk co-operative, on the basis of suspicion. “We have detained them, but it is premature to comment on their suspected role. However, the positive thing is that the safe was recovered by Rathod, who then handed it over to the station,” said Todkar.  

Earlier incident
On September 14, 2011, four burglars sneaked into the Royal Arcade late at night and assaulted nine policemen with iron rods, when a team reached the area after someone called the control room to report suspicious activity on the ground floor. The nine cops, despite being armed, failed to stop the four unidentified persons. Four policemen sustained serious injuries during the scuffle and no suspects have been apprehended till date. 

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