On Friday, the Kurla police arrested three members of a gang who specialised in stealing mobile phones by spraying chilli powder in the eyes of unsuspecting victims.
Luck ran out for the gang when a team of policemen on patrol saw the group snatching a mobile phone from a person at LBS Marg in Kurla. The gang, in a white Honda, was nabbed after a chase. One of the accused worked as a driver for a company and cops suspect he illegally used the car to help his pals steal mobiles.
The arrested have been identified as Irfan Shaikh (19), SurajSubhash Vishwakarma (22) and the driver Rajeshkumar Radheshyam Trivedi (24). A fourth member of the gang is absconding.
The three have been booked under Sections 393 (attempt to commit robbery) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance) of the Indian Penal Code. They were presented in court on Saturday and have been remanded to police custody till April 2.
Investigations have revealed that the three main accused are history sheeters with several cases registered against them in police stations across the city.
The three accused, Shaikh, Vishwakarma and the absconding man would usually hire a cab and bribe the driver to keep his mouth shut as they zeroed in on victims, mostly pedestrians, slowed down as the car reached them, sprayed chilli powder in their eyes and made away with the mobile phones as the victim screamed in pain.
On Friday, the four accused were on their regular round near Chunnabhatti when they saw a police nakabandi and took a U-turn. Suspecting something amiss, a police wireless van then started following the car and saw the gang in action. They then chased the car down and arrested the accused.
On Saturday, senior police inspector Laxman Chimaji Bhalerao of Kurla police station told SMD, “Our team of PI Sarjerao Jadgare, detection officer Tukaram Koyande along with constables Yendre, Bharti, Pawar, Garje and Chavan arrested the accused. Later we learnt that many cases have been registered against them earlier too.”