Mumbai Crime: CCTV captures arsonist setting 8 bikes ablaze

The footage shows the culprit asking locals for a matchbox, and attempting to steal petrol, before setting eight bikes in Kherwadi ablaze with a lit cigarette

During investigations of an arson case in which eight bikes were charred in Kherwadi, near the Western Express Highway on Friday, the police recovered CCTV footage which has revealed startling details about the incident.

Eight motorcycles were burnt to ashes in Kherwadi in the early hours of Friday. CCTV footage shows exactly how the arsonist went about the act
Eight motorcycles were burnt to ashes in Kherwadi in the early hours of Friday. CCTV footage shows exactly how the arsonist went about the act

The video shows the culprit loitering around the scene of crime an hour before the fire, asking passers-by for a matchbox, and goes on to show exactly how he set the bikes ablaze. The Nirmal Nagar police have revealed that they recovered the footage from a CCTV camera at a jewellery shop located opposite to the crime scene.

A video grab from the CCTV footage of the area before the fire took place
A video grab from the CCTV footage of the area before the fire took place

As the incident took place at night, the arsonist could not be identified in the dark video, but he can be spotted roaming around the bikes around 2 am, a full hour before the fire actually began. Not only did the suspect scan the entire area, according to the cops, he was bold enough to ask passers-by for a matchbox.

When a white car approached the area, the culprit asked the car’s owner for a matchbox as well, but was refused. Later, the arsonist is seen checking the car’s petrol tank, possibly to check whether he could pry it open and remove petrol for the fire.

When he finally got a matchbox from a local, the accused broke open the fuel tank of one the bikes he would later set ablaze. This bike belonged to Kherwadi resident Ashish Dubey, and was the first to be torched.

“He removed petrol from my bike, filled it in a bottle and used it to douse all the eight bikes placed there,” said Dubey, who had bought his motorcycle (Hero Passion Pro) just a year ago.

Between 3.02 am and 3.05 am, the footage also showed the arsonist moving away from the spot, lighting a cigarette and then throwing it on Dubey’s bike. By the time the fire died down, it had completely consumed all eight bikes, leaving nothing but their charred skeletons.

“My bike (Bajaj Discover) was brand new; I had not even got the number plate yet, and now it is burnt to ashes,” said one of the bike owners, Shashikant Kamble.

Cops’ theories
Interestingly, the incident took place close to the area popular with bike racers, a spot mid-day had pointed out in its story, ‘Unveiled: The shadowy world of super-speed highway bike racers’, dated December 31, 2011.

Considering the proximity of the racing route, cops suspect that the bikes may have been torched by a biker group seeking to exact revenge on Kherwadi residents. In the past, residents have been known to clash with bikers, leading to injuries and other incidents of arson.

Cops also suspect the local hawkers on the footpaths, who have often complained that because of the bikes parked in the area, they had to go long distances before finding space to set up shop.

A police officer from Nirmal Nagar police station said, “We have questioned the locals; the accused arsonist is not a local. We are investigating the case from all possible angles and hope to arrest the accused soon.”

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