Metres away from police chowky, stolen phones sell like hot cakes

Mini chor bazaar in Dadar (E) exclusively sells pilfered goods at throwaway prices; cops claim that no action can be taken unless a complaint is lodged

A mini chor bazaar for mobile phones and other electronic gadgets has been flourishing right under the nose of cops. Every day, vendors sell their ill-gotten phones, laptops, chargers, and batteries near the Swaminarayan temple Dadar (East), which stands directly opposite a police chowky. Railway protection forces (RPF), the BMC and city cops have not raised a finger to crack down on this shady business.

Sold for a steal: The street stalls sell cellphones, laptops, chargers
and batteries. While the boxes look original, the goods inside them are
stolen. Pics/Santosh Nagwekar

Around 20 stalls line the 200 feet-long stretch, and every item up for sale here is reportedly stolen from unspecting citizens commuting on local trains or walking in city roads. Expensive models like Nokia N8, which cost Rs 20,000-25,000 can be bought for a steal, at Rs 6,000 in this bazaar. Blackberrys, which cost a minimum of Rs 10,000 at respectable shops, are up for grabs for just Rs 3,000.

Asked why the shady lane fell in its blind spot, Suresh Parab, senior inspector at Matunga police station, said, "No cases have been registered against them, and so we cannot take any action. We know that they sell stolen goods, but there has to be a case against the accused. At the most, we can charge them a fine of Rs 1,000 for illegal hawking. People should not buy old and used goods, just because they are cheap."

Once in a while, the BMC also picks up some of the hawkers for selling wares in illegal stalls. But within days, they worm their way back into the markets.

"Evening hours are peak business time, and the hawkers usually target gullible customers who are new to the city. The phones work for some time, but problems crop up soon afterwards," added the police inspector.
A stall owner at the bazaar bragged, "We don't sell fakes, but only original goods. We offer very attractive prices, and our customers keep coming back for more."

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