Mumbai: Thieves use potholes as their latest weapon against citizens

The city's back-breaking potholes are making you an easy target for thieves. The police have busted a gang that snatched the handbag of a bike rider as the vehicle slowed down near a patch of potholes 

Dilip Lulla and Harsha slow down on spotting a patch of potholes in Ulhasnagar. Illustration/Uday Mohite
Dilip Lulla and Harsha slow down on spotting a patch of potholes in Ulhasnagar. Illustration/Uday Mohite

The city's back-breaking potholes are making you an easy target for thieves. The Vitthalwadi police have busted a gang that snatched the handbag of a bike rider as the vehicle slowed down near a patch of potholes in Ulhasnagar on Sunday.

The police suspect that the same modus operandi was used in recent chain-snatching cases in the area.

Three bikers close in and snatch the handbag containing two  mobiles worth Rs 11,500 and Rs 2,500 in cash
Three bikers close in and snatch the handbag containing two  mobiles worth Rs 11,500 and Rs 2,500 in cash

Around 12.30 am on July 9, Ulhasnagar resident Harsha Dilip Lulla, 34, and husband Dilip Lulla were headed on a motorcycle for Ambernath. Harsha was the pillion rider, clutching a handbag.

They flee on their bike but fall at a pothole 1 km ahead
They flee on their bike but fall at a pothole 1 km ahead

Hit the brake, lose the bag
On reaching Kalika Mandir in Ulhasnagar sector 4, Dilip spotted several potholes ahead and slowed down. "Right then, three persons on a motorcycle approached them, snatched Harsha's bag and fled," said SB Nagare, investigation officer from Vitthalwadi police station. The bag contained two mobile phones worth Rs 11,500 and Rs 2,500 in cash. Nagare said the three thieves had been tailing the couple for some time and targeted them when they slowed down.

The couple rush to Vitthalwadi police station to file a complaint
The couple rush to Vitthalwadi police station to file a complaint

Although shaken by the crime, Dilip collected his wits and chased the thieves on his bike, while raising an alarm. About 1 km ahead, the thieves skid on a pothole and fell. "They abandoned their motorcycle and ran away," said Nagare.

Dilip and Harsha then approached the Vitthalwadi police. A case was registered at under sections 394 (voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code and a hunt for the thieves launched.

Thieves Sunny Sudhir Shetty and Rahul Mohan Bedkar have been remanded in police custody till July 12. Pic/Naveet Barhate
Thieves Sunny Sudhir Shetty and Rahul Mohan Bedkar have been remanded in police custody till July 12. Pic/Naveet Barhate

The identities of the three were established in hours, and two of them — Ulhasnagar sector 3 residents Sunny Sudhir Shetty, 20, and Rahul Mohan Bedkar, 20 - were arrested the same morning. The third, Pankaj Bahadur Karotiya, 19, is still on the run.

"The stolen valuables are with Karotiya. The other two were produced in court and remanded in police custody till July 12," said Nagare.

Same modus operandi
During their interrogation, Shetty and Bedkar revealed that they used the same modus operandi for past targets.

"The stretch of road from Ulhasnagar to Ambernath has seen similar crimes. We are questioning the two youths to ascertain whether they had a hand in those as well. The central police in Ulhasnagar, too, wants their custody for investigation into similar crimes in their jurisdiction," said a senior official from Vitthalwadi police station.

Sunil Bharatwaj, deputy commissioner of police, Ulhasnagar division, confirmed a probe into the possible involvement of the gang in previous such crimes.

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