Mumbai man gets wristwatch back 32 years after it was stolen

After the police failed to return his watch to him, Naveen Maru had lost all hope of ever seeing it again, but was pleasantly surprised to get it back last week

A 57-year-old man was finally reunited with his wristwatch over three decades after his it was stolen from his person, and several years since he lost all hope of ever seeing it again. After the watch was stolen from him in 1982, it remained in police custody for 32 years, only to be returned to him last week.

32 years after his watch was stolen, Naveen Maru was finally reunited with it last week. He intends to repair the watch and wear it again
32 years after his watch was stolen, Naveen Maru was finally reunited with it last week. He intends to repair the watch and wear it again

In fact, after the infamous thief, Chor Baba, alias Krishna Ramchandra Patil stole his watch in 1982, Naveen Maru had lodged a police complaint immediately, and cops had even arrested the accused the very same day. But it would be years later that Maru would get the watch, with cops ignoring a court order to return it in 1983.

Sentimental value
The year the watch was stolen, a much younger Maru was looking forward to his wedding, and had bought the timepiece in anticipation and celebration of his upcoming nuptials. Clearly the watch held sentimental value for Maru, who said, “When I lost it, I decided that I would never wear another wristwatch again.”

The watch, an HMT Janata, was all the rage in those days, and Maru had bought it for Rs 670. Today, HMT watches are considered collectibles, and many have preserved their pieces as family heirlooms.

Back then, Maru resided in a building on Ranade Road at Dadar, where he also owned a shop on the ground floor. One day, he and other shopkeepers were forced to pull their shutters down due to some law and order issue.

On his way home, just a few floors up, he was accosted by Chor Baba, who demanded money at first, but then ran away with the watch. “The accused was arrested the same day I registered the offence, and the cops were successful in recovering my watch as well. They should have handed it over to me long before,” said Maru.

“I went to the police station several times, but the cops always showed a lethargic attitude and asked me to return later, even after the court ordered them to give the watch back to me. Later, when I shifted to Dombivli, I stopped thinking about the watch, believing I would never get it back,” he added.

Imagine his surprise, then, when he received a letter from the Dadar police station on November 3, asking him to collect the watch. “I was shocked when I read the letter, as the cops asked me to report to the sessions court on November 19 and take the watch back.

I had second thoughts about whether I should bother at all, as I had struggled so much for it earlier, but my family insisted that I go,” Maru recalled, adding further, “I was speechless seeing my watch after 32 years; I couldn’t think of anything else.” The storied watch is no longer working, but Maru is keen on having it repaired so he can wear it with pride once again.

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