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Man finds stolen car in 12 hours, thanks to social networking

Naysayers who lament the evils of social networking can eat their words. A network of helpful and alert texters achieved a feat that eluded even the city’s cops, when a 28-year-old model’s stolen SUV, a swanky Pajero, was recovered in just 12 hours, all thanks to a message posted by him on Blackberry messenger (BBM).

Saif Siddiqui
Lost and found: Saif Siddiqui with his Pajero

Saif Siddiqui’s car was stolen from Khar around midnight on Tuesday, only to be miraculously restored to him around noon the next day, parked in a secluded lane in Andheri, near MVM School.

Sameer Handa
Good samaritan: Sameer Handa (above) spotted a Pajero with the same registration number as had been mentioned in the BBM text, and alerted its owner Saif Siddiqui (below) 

Although Saif had already lodged an FIR, he also typed out a message on BBM for good measure, appealing to his friends to contact him via BBM if they saw his car.

Saif Siddiqui

In a chain reaction, his friends shared the message with their friends, and soon entire networks of BBM friends were looking out for the missing set of wheels.

Around noon the next day, when Saif had just about given up hope of ever getting his car back, a complete stranger responded to his message, saying that he had identified a car similar to the one that was described as missing in the message, in his locality. Saif rushed to the spot, and burst into tears when he was reunited with his precious vehicle.

Lost and found
The car went missing when Saif went to meet his friend at Laxmi Niwas on 16th Road around 11 pm on Tuesday. When he came down to drive back home, he was shocked to discover that his car was nowhere in sight. He immediately alerted Mumbai police and rushed to Khar police station, where he lodged an FIR for the stolen Mitsubishi Pajero 2800 (4X4).

Cops registered his complaint, offering the unsolicited advice that a stolen Pajero is rarely recovered. But the 300 friends on Saif’s BBM list proved them wrong. In fact, even this MiD DAY correspondent received a message this morning saying: ‘Close friend’s car stolen… if anyone sees a Pajero MH02 BM 3394 please revert immediately on 982104XXXX.’

Saif’s Good Samaritan has now been identified as Sameer Handa. Handa spotted the car with the same registration number parked in a secluded bylane in Sainik Nagar in Andheri (West). “I rushed to the spot on my bike and I was lucky to find my Pajero,” a beaming Saif told MiD DAY.

The door lock was damaged, and the external safety lock that protects the steering and the clutch pedal had also been broken. Luckily, the car was not damaged externally. “Since I had my keys I checked the car and rushed to Khar police station,” said Saif.

“I found that the lock fit loosely, which means that it was removed earlier to make keys and was fitted again. The thief was in search of an opportunity, which he got last night. He entered the car from the rear, broke the clutch lock and fled with the car,” said Saif.

Handa said, “Even I own a Pajero and I know it does not have an electronic safety lock nor a GPS device. This model has a very good resale value, but can be opened even with the keys to a Fiat.”

Copspeak
Mangesh Pote, senior inspector of Khar police station said, “It’s good that Saif got his Pajero back, because these vehicles are vulnerable to theft. Even during nakabandis we usually verify Pajero owners and alert them to install extra safety devices in their vehicles.”  

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