A trio of delinquents pulled a fast one on the city police yesterday – not once, not twice, but three times in 35 minutes. At 6.30 am yesterday, senior inspector Kalyanrao Vidhate from Kothrud received an alert message from the adjoining Warje-Malwadi police station that there was an unsuccessful attempt by three people posing as policemen to dupe a woman.
However, before Vidhate could intensify police patrolling in his jurisdiction, which is infamous for chain snatching and crimes involving phoney cops, the trio had already cheated three elderly women of gold ornaments worth over Rs 5 lakh in three different areas between 6.45 am and 7.20 am.
The first incident took place at 6.45 am in Dahanukar Colony, the second one at 7 am in Gujarat Colony, and the last one occurred near Olivia Hotel on Karve Road. Following the episodes local police and the anti-chain snatching squad pressed into action. Photos of suspects were shown to the victims. The three women are about 70-76 years old, and the descriptions provided by them of the con men correspond.
“We have received footage from a CCTV camera, which was installed at the entrance of the reception area of Olivia Hotel. However, the video is not very clear as some of its view is blocked,” said Vidhate.
Speaking to MiD DAY, inspector Chadrakant Ghodake from anti-chain snatching squad, who went to Olivia Hotel to check the footage, said, “Had the roof not cut off the camera’s filed of vision, the faces of the miscreants could have been captured.” Ghodake maintained that the all three con jobs were likely the handiwork of the Irani gang, as in one of the victims had picked out a suspect from an album shown to her.
Another crime branch officer said that they have arrested members of various gangs involved in chain snatching and duping elderly women on several occasions. But, after obtaining bail and stepping out of jail, these crooks resumed their operations in the city, with Kothrud, Sahakarnagar and Warje as areas of choice.
He added that the offenders choose early morning hours, as this is when many elderly citizens come out for a morning walk, there aren’t too many people or vehicles on the roads, and even if a victim cries for help, hopes of rescue are minimal. Describing the suspects from these gangs and their modus operandi, the officers said that these crooks use their tallness to their advantage in posing as policemen. They target senior citizens in secluded spots and flee with their valuables.
The first incident took place outside Sai Society in Dahanukar colony, Kothrud around 6.45 am, where 72-year old Rekha Masale was the prey who got duped of five tola gold ornaments comprising bangles, earrings and a chain.
“The complainant was taking a morning walk alone, when she was accosted by three people masquerading as policemen. They told her that several thefts had happened in the neighbourhood, reprimanded her for sporting valuable ornaments, and asked her to put them in a carry bag,” said Vidhate.
He said that the woman fell for the ploy and placed the ornaments inside a sheet of cloth offered by the trio, who then took off. “When the woman reached home and unwrapped the cloth, she was shocked to find that there was some fake jewellery inside,” he said.
76-year-old Anuradha Bandekar was looted at Atrey Society in Gujarat Colony around 7 am, with the same gambit by the three fake cops. She lost gold ornaments worth Rs 2.70 lakh in the process.
In the last instance, 72-year-old Suman Ambekar, a resident of Shila Vihar Society was duped of three tola gold by three people at Olivia Hotel off Karve Road around 7.20 am. “In this case, the CCTV footage shows one person wearing blue-striped shirt and denim trousers arriving on a motorbike. After that Ambekar is seen going towards her house, but she is stopped by the rider and within moments two other people approach from the rear and start speaking to her,” said Vidhate. The cop added that the faces of the crooks are not detectable in the footage.
In her complaint, Ambekar said that the biker asked her to stop and then two men arrived. The trio told her that several thefts and chain snatchings had occurred in the area and asked me remove my ornaments. “They were so authoritative that I could not protest despite reading in newspapers about such incidents of deception. I removed my jewellery, and they gave me a handkerchief to keep the ornaments in it, and then handed me the cloth. However, on reaching home I only found some rocks inside the wrapping,” she said in her complaint.
Greasing the palms!
Police said that in several cases, when some elderly woman fails in efforts to take off bangles etc, the phoney cops ask the victim to sit somewhere, and then apply oil to her hands to remove the jewellery
6.45 am Was the time when the first robbery took place
Rs 5 lakh Total value of the jewellery robbed by the crooks