How 'Shree Ganesh' helped crack a Rs 14-lakh robbery

The VP Road police have solved a break-in in which silver worth Rs 14 lakh was wiped out, with the arrest of four suspected burglars. The sleuths cracked the case on the basis of CCTV footage showing a tempo bearing the words ‘Shree Ganesh’ parked outside the shop, which they had reason to believe was used in the crime. They needed only to trace the vehicle to get to the thieves.

Pandu Gadha (second from right), with co-accused (from left) Ravi Bunadi, Murgan Shettiyar and Shantilal Doshi

In one of the first arrests, they nailed the tempo’s owner, a 65-year-old man known as Pandu Gadha, who worked the docks in Mumbai as a deputy of bootleggers Haji Mastan and Karim Lala in the 1970s-80s. After he ran through his accumulated wealth, he fell back on housebreakings, the police said. The burglary occurred on November 12 at a jewellery store by the name of Ronak Gold near Hinduja College on Charni Road.

The tempo that was used to carry the vault away. Pics/Milind Karekar

The storeowner, Jayendra Pravinchand Zaveri (58), noticed that his shop’s lock and latch was undone and a safety vault weighing 100 kg, which had 32 kg of silver ingots valued at around Rs 14 lakh, was missing. The police reckoned that it would take more than two people to carry out a 100-kg vault, and that a vehicle had to be parked right outside for them to make a quick escape. “We found out from the footage of a nearby CCTV camera that a Tata Ace tempo with the words ‘Shree Ganesh’ on its windshield was parked outside during the time of the break-in,” said Senior Inspector Rajendra Chavan of VP Road police station.

The Pydhonie police managed to locate the driver of the tempo, one Ravi Bunadi, and its owner Pandurang Veer alias Pandu Gadha. When the VP Road police interrogated them, they learnt that a food vendor Murgan Mohan Shettiyar, who plied a dosa cart just outside the shop, was also involved. The interrogations finally led the sleuths to arrest Shantilal Doshi, a Hyderabad-based jeweller who was the fence for the silver thieves.

“We managed to recover around 31 kg of the stolen silver biscuits from the accused. The tempo owner Pandurang Veer has around 25 cases registered against him. He once ruled over the Mumbai docks with his illegal activities,” said Nisar Tamboli, deputy commissioner of police, zone II.

The police learnt that Pandu Gadha, as he was called by Karim Lala and Haji Mastan, used to steal valuables from the docks. “He is unmarried and stays at Wadi Bunder. His name has resurfaced in a criminal investigation after a 10-year hiatus. He is 65-years-old and had run out of the cash he had made raiding the docks, so he came up with the plan to carry out a break-in,” a police official said. “We have got custody of the accused till November 26, and hope to make more revelations through interrogations,” said Sub-Inspector Raju Surve of VP Road police station. 

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