Tejas Pradhan (13), a resident of Sahakarnagar, was wandering in the neighbourhood on February 23 when he observed a boy his age zestfully riding a bicycle. Nothing unusual about the sighting, except Tejas recognised that, until about an hour ago, he was the proud owner of the wheels. The cycle had been stolen from his coaching centre. With the help of his uncle Sameer Potnis, the class VIII student managed to apprehend the kid and handed him over to Dattawadi police station.
During interrogation, the young delinquent spilled the beans about his gang comprising five to six children – all about 10 to 13 years old – who swiped high-end bicycles, just for the joyride. Potnis decided not to lodge a complaint as his nephew’s cycle had been recovered. However, when cops accompanied the miscreant to his dwelling at Janata Vasahat in Parvati area, they nabbed two other kids and seized seven bicycles, which were parked at myriad locations in the area.
“On February 23, Tejas had gone to his coaching classes near Dashbhuja Ganapati Temple in Sahakarnagar. However, on stepping out to head back home he discovered that his bicycle, worth Rs 12,000, had disappeared. Since my office is in the same area, I rushed to the spot after he informed me, consoled him, and we set about on a search that lasted an hour. Finally, we were forced to give up and decided to return,” Potnis said.
He added, “When we reached the main road, Tejas spotted a kid on his cycle and started shouting. We then nabbed him and took him to Laxminagar police chowky, where the boy admitted that he had stolen the wheels. Considering the age of the child and that he was from a poor family, we decided not to lodge a complaint. Cops, though, suspected that it was a big racket and decided to raid his neighbourhood and picked up some other kids.”
Sub-inspector RS Kshirsagar of Dattawadi police station said, “During the investigation, we zeroed in on three children, and after taking them into confidence, we seized seven high-range cycles, which were fastened with iron chains, from various sections of the slum.” He said that since Potnis did not lodge a complaint, cops let off the kids after a warning and written undertaking from their parents. “Lodging a complaint against them would have meant putting them in a correctional home, where they might have become hardened criminals. There is a need to reform these kids with proper counseling,” the sub-inspector said.