Mumbai: Railway staffer's timely phone call scares burglar away

Manuel Devavaram has been saved by the bell. The house of the 71-year-old resident of Railway Colony, close to the GTB Nagar railway station, was targeted by a burglar early on Monday, but a call from his son’s colleague, who was in a passing local train, scared the intruder away.

The railway employee spots the intruder at the window of Manuel Devavaram’s house. Illustrations/Uday Mohite
The railway employee spots the intruder at the window of Manuel Devavaram’s house. Illustrations/Uday Mohite

Devavaram’s house is on the ground floor of a four-storey building in the railway quarters, parallel to which run the Harbour line’s railway tracks. He sleeps alone in a room, with his bed placed close to the window, covered by a grill and a mosquito net. The window faces the railway tracks. His son, who is a railway employee, daughter-in-law and grandchildren sleep in another room. Devavaram, whose suffers from renal failure, keeps his medicines and wallet as well as his son’s mobile phone next to the window while sleeping.

He calls up his friend, who was asleep in another room, to alert him about it
He calls up his friend, who was asleep in another room, to alert him about it

Lurking around
Around 4.30 am, while Devavaram and his family were fast asleep, a man entered the railway quarters, and saw the phone and the wallet kept near the window. He climbed on the window grill and pried the mosquito net open a little. He then grabbed the wallet, which had Rs 2,000, and tried to push open the net some more to reach for the mobile phone.

As soon as the phone starts ringing, both Devavaram and his son are jolted awake
As soon as the phone starts ringing, both Devavaram and his son are jolted awake

Right then, a local train rumbled by and colleague of Devavaram’s son, who was in it, spotted the burglar. Showing quick presence of mind, he called Devavaram’s son up on his phone to alert him.

As the Devavarams count their losses, they are relieved that the burglar decamped with only the wallet
As the Devavarams count their losses, they are relieved that the burglar decamped with only the wallet

Alarmed by the rings of the phone punctuating the silence, the burglar quickly made his getaway. “When the phone began ringing, I got up and my son rushed to my room. The burglar got scared and first hid near a tree. He escaped later. The call from my son’s friend saved the mobile phone,” said a grateful Devavaram.

Not the first time
The elderly resident alleged that there are frequent such burglaries in the locality.

John Sequeira, another resident of the colony and vice-chairman of Central Railway Majdoor Sangh, echoed the claim. “Such incidents are quite regular in the area. Many drug addicts and burglars trespass into our colony. We have raised this with the police several times, but there are no patrol teams deputed to the area. On Sunday night, a man tried to steal a bicycle, but we managed to stop him.”

Resident says
Neeta Maytri, a resident of the building in which Devavaram resides, said a few years ago, she had been targeted by a chain snatcher. “My daughter and I live by ourselves. I’m scared to leave my daughter alone in the locality. Police should patrol the area to curb the menace of thefts.

Santosh Kadam, another resident, said he has to go to the railway station to pick up his wife, a doctor, each time she is on night shift.

A senior officer from the Antop Hill police station, however, said patrol teams make the rounds of the locality, too. “In future, we will step up patrolling in the area.”

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