Mumbai: Hunting for food, burglar hits upon secret gold stash in kitchen

Unable to find any valuables after breaking into a house, the thief decided to get himself a snack from the kitchen, where he found jewellery worth Rs 2 lakh hidden in a cookie jar

For a frustrated burglar, unable to find any valuables in the house he had broken into, it was sheer luck and hunger that led him to a secret stash of gold jewellery hidden in a snack jar in the kitchen. The thief left the house richer by Rs 2 lakh, but his luck ran out on Sunday, when the cops came knocking on his door.

Housebreaker Pankaj Lokhande did not find any valuables in the house he had broken into and went to the kitchen for a snack when he discovered gold rings, earrings and chains hidden inside a steel snack jar. Illustration/Amit Bandre
Housebreaker Pankaj Lokhande did not find any valuables in the house he had broken into and went to the kitchen for a snack when he discovered gold rings, earrings and chains hidden inside a steel snack jar. Illustration/Amit Bandre

Housebreaker Pankaj Lokhande (20) admitted to the police that he lived in Chembur and had been keeping an eye on houses in the vicinity to check which residents were out of town. He learnt that a house at Siddharth Colony had been left unattended as the complainant was on vacation.

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But when he broke into the house on March 12, he did not find any valuables in the house and had just about given up when he went to the kitchen for a snack. To his surprise, he opened a cookie jar to discover gold rings, earrings and chains hidden inside.

Assistant Police Inspector Vishal Gaikwad from Chembur police station said, “The complainant Sanjay Upadhyay had gone to Uttar Pradesh with his family on March 8 and returned on April 8, when he discovered that certain valuables had been stolen in his absence.”

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A case was registered under Sections 454 (lurking house-trespass), 457 (lurking house-trespass by night) and 380 (theft in dwelling house) of the Indian Penal Code and the police began searching for suspects. Meanwhile, Lokhande began to spend his plunder on lottery tickets, perhaps hoping for more good fortune.

But his luck had started to run out, and he lost a lot of money on the tickets. A month later, the cops found out about Lokhande’s lottery habit and began to question where he was getting the money for it when he was unemployed. “We started looking for people who were unemployed and learnt that Lokhande had no job but still had money to spend on lottery tickets.

So we took him to the police station where he confessed the crime and returned the valuables stolen from the house,” recalled Gaikwad, adding that they were able to recover jewellery worth Rs 1.44 lakh from him.

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