These thieves put the ‘mobile’ in mobile phones by stealing handsets on local and long-distance trains in Mumbai, then selling them to a trusted trio, who then moved the phones to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and, at times, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The Railway Crime Branch has arrested the five perpetrators and managed to recover around 40 cellphones, solving 21 cases in the process.

Shyam Baranvar (19),  Mira Road resident Pramod Yadav (20), Nallasopara resident
Shyam Baranvar (19),  Mira Road resident and Pramod Yadav (20), Nallasopara resident

The breakthrough happened after the agency started investigations, following orders from the Commissioner of Government Railway Police (GRP), Prabhat Kumar. “Around ten phones are stolen every day in the suburban train network, and this data is based on the number of people who actually lodge cases,” said an officer from the GRP.

Munir Mehendi Kapadiya (26), Mumbra resident Abdul Raheman Niyamatali Khan alias Uncle (35), Nallasopara resident
Munir Mehendi Kapadiya (26), Mumbra resident and Abdul Raheman Niyamatali Khan alias Uncle (35), Nallasopara resident

“We have arrested Munir Mehendi Kapadiya (29), a resident of Mumbra, Abdul Raheman Niyamatali Khan alias Uncle (35), a resident of Nallasopara, Pramod Yadav (20), from Nallasopara, Shyam Baranvar (19), a resident of Mira Road, and Mohsin Hussein Kachi alias Judwaa (25), a resident of Mumbra,” said D D Wadmare, senior police inspector of the Railway Crime Branch.

Police have also apprehended the people who purchased the phones from the culprits — Mehmood Malik (27), a resident of Mira Road, Narolla Khan (23), a resident of Nallasopara, and Imran Qureshi (25), a resident of Null Bazaar.

All five perpetrators have criminal records, with a minimum of ten cases registered against them, and top the list of mobile snatchers in railways. “After preparing a top ten list of criminals, the GRP crime branch started searching for the accused, and managed to nab these five over the last five days.

The accused would swipe cellphones in local and long-distance trains with the help of children, whom they used to pay Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 per handset. They also took help from eunuchs, and would themselves dress nattily to pinch phones from first-class compartments,” added Wadmare.