Mumbai crime follow-up: Oh fish! Stolen fish worth Rs 1.5 lakh die

A 17-year-old employee of the Kurla shop from where the 126 golden pearl arowana, worth Rs 1.51 lakh, were stolen on January 17, confessed to the crime yesterday; his theft went in vain as only six of the fish survived

A young thief’s hope of netting a big chunk of money from the fish stolen by him tanked soon after the theft, when 120 of the 126 fish died because he couldn’t ensure that they got enough oxygen.

While a small golden pearl arowana goes for Rs 1,500, a large one can fetch as much as Rs 1 lakh
While a small golden pearl arowana goes for Rs 1,500, a large one can fetch as much as Rs 1 lakh

The 126 golden pearl arowana, worth R1.51 lakh, were stolen from a shop in Kurla East on January 17 (‘Something’s fishy about this crime’, mid-day, January 23). In an unexpected twist in the case, a 17-year-old employee of the shop confessed to the crime yesterday.

Officials from the Nehru Nagar police, who had been suspecting that three outsiders had looted the shop ever since the theft was detected, were surprised when the shop owner, Mohammad Sajjad, approached them yesterday and said that his employee had confessed to stealing the golden pearl arowana, which are believed to be a lucky charm.

The boy was scared by the constant police movement in the shop and had confessed to Sajjad, hoping that the latter would not hand him over to the cops. According to police officials, the boy had been working at the shop for a year and a half and had been learning about fish species and their prices from the owner.

Speaking to mid-day, Senior Inspector Suresh Bhavar from Nehru Nagar police station said, “The accused had been working at the shop since a year and a half. He hails from the Konkan region and had been staying with his uncle in Kurla West. The accused has confessed to the crime and has claimed that most of the fish died immediately after the theft as he couldn’t ensure they got enough oxygen.”

Seeking mercy
“Sajjad was shocked when the accused went up to him and confessed to stealing the fish. The boy asked Sajjad to show mercy and help him out, but since a police case had already been registered, he was taken to the police station. We had been interrogating several individuals and history-sheeters, but nobody had even suspected that the boy could be behind the theft,” said an official from Nehru Nagar police station.

The accused told the cops that after stealing golden pearl arowana from the shop, he had planned to breed them in a tank in his house, and sell them for a much higher price when they grew larger. While small golden pearl arowana sell for R1,500 each, a large one can fetch as much as Rs 1 lakh.

Modus operandi
“While working in the shop, the boy had robbed the key and got a duplicate made. He entered the shop using the duplicate key on January 17 and swiftly made off with the fish,” added Bhavar. The cops said that after 120 of the fish died, the boy threw them in a garbage bin at Kurla West.

“The fish must have been eaten by crows as we sent a team and couldn’t locate any dead fish in the area. We have recovered six fish, worth R9,000 from the accused,” added Bhavar. The boy has been booked under Section 457 (Lurking house-trespass or house-breaking) and 380 (Theft in dwelling house, etc) of the Indian Penal Code. He will be produced in the juvenile court today.

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