Gang of loo looters busted

Oct 04, 2011, 09:20 IST | Saurabh Vaktania

Notorious trio used to speed off with autos while the unsuspecting owners were relieving themselves at urinals; cops recover seven stolen rickshaws

Just like businessmen, even thieves keep innovating their means to maximise their profits by taking minimal risks. One such innovative gang of autorickshaw thieves had been operating in the Dindoshi area for the past three months -- striking their victims when they were in their most vulnerable position -- answering nature's call.

Gone with the wind: The thieves hang around a public urinal wearing
autodrivers' uniforms. They patiently wait for an unsuspecting autodriver
to park his vehicle and enter the public urinal. As soon as the driver
enters the urinal, one of the thieves rushes to the parked auto, while the
other kept watch, and using a duplicate key starts the engine and makes
off without anyone noticing. Illustration/jishu Dev malakar

But their luck ran out on Sunday. Acting on a tip-off that some of the gang members were to strike outside a public urinal at Dindoshi bus depot, the cops laid a trap and busted the gang. The accused have been identified as Neeraj Pandey (22), Hausla Prasad Mishra (40) and Ramsagar Shukla (40).

Modus operandi
The cops revealed that the trio had a unique way of operating. The thieves would make away with those vehicles that were temporarily parked outside public toilets, while the drivers were inside answering nature's call. The reason police stated was the time factor, as any driver who had gone to the urinal would definitely take a few minutes to return, giving them enough time to steal the auto. Moreover, to avoid suspicion, the culprits would operate wearing a rickshaw driver's uniform, making it appear as if they were driving their own vehicle. The investigators also said that the accused would roam with a bunch of keys, which they used to start an auto.

Official comment
Vinayak Kakade, Senior PI of Dindoshi police station said, "Pandey and Mishra are auto drivers by profession, while Shukla is an auto mechanic and the mastermind. The stolen rickshaws were brought to his garage for repainting and changing number plates. Once this was done, the accused would forged papers for the vehicle and would later sell it for about Rs 4,000." So far the cops have recovered seven autos and are expecting more.

The trio has been booked under Section 379 (theft), 467 (forging documents), 471 (using forged documents), 411 (retaining stolen property) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC.

The accused were presented before the Metropolitan Magistrate Court and been remanded to police custody till October 10.

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