Before striking - either early morning or evening - the four conducted a recee of the target area to check for nakabandis and CCTVs. They attempted to commit crimes in a manner that they were not captured on CCTVs. Illustration/Ravi Jadhav
Before striking - either early morning or evening - the four conducted a recee of the target area to check for nakabandis and CCTVs. They attempted to commit crimes in a manner that they were not captured on CCTVs. Illustration/Ravi Jadhav

Rest easy and don't turn away delivery boys. The Andheri police last week arrested one of the city's most notorious chainsnatchers - Jafar Deshmukh, 38, alias Chikna - and his gang of three after they managed to identify their unique modus operandi. They also learned that the gang has been active for a year and connected them to at least 123 incidents of chain snatching across the city.

At the time of committing the crime, they wore similar clothes to give an appearance of being delivery boys for a pizza joint or courier firm so that if they were caught on camera fleeing, they had an alibi
At the time of committing the crime, they wore similar clothes to give an appearance of being delivery boys for a pizza joint or courier firm so that if they were caught on camera fleeing, they had an alibi

3-step plan
The police stumbled on the gang's strategy of disguising themselves as delivery boys for pizza joints and others and robbing people on the Western Express Highway after the arrest of one Naeem Ansari, 27. He was caught riding a motorcycle without a number plate and on being asked to produce the documents for it, the police realised that it was a stolen bike.

After they committed the crime and snatched chains from senior citizens out on a walk, they ditched their stolen motorcycles and went their separate ways. They divided up the loot by selling the gold at throwaway prices
After they committed the crime and snatched chains from senior citizens out on a walk, they ditched their stolen motorcycles and went their separate ways. They divided up the loot by selling the gold at throwaway prices

As part of their modus operandi, before conducting any operation, they first conducted a recce of the area to check for any police nakabandis and hunt for CCTVs installed. Sources said, "They avoided committing the crime if CCTVs were spotted. This was to avoid being captured in any footage. Then, the rider and the pillion rider wore the same clothing that made them look like delivery boys for a pizza joint or a courier firm. This was to dodge the police officials if they were caught in CCTV while fleeing with gold."

Grab of the CCTV footage that captured them
Grab of the CCTV footage that captured them

Cracking the code
The police in the western region of the city had been receiving frequent complaints of chain snatchings during early mornings and evenings and most of the targets were senior citizens out for walks. Working on the complaints, the Andheri police noticed that the common denomination was the timings of the crimes.

Jafar Deshmukh alias ChiknaJafar Deshmukh alias Chikna

Senior police inspector, Pandit Thorat of Andheri police station told mid-day, "We had been observing regular nakabandis, and one of the four accused was caught with a bike without any number plate. He was asked to produce the documents, he could not and he was then detained and questioned which led to busting the gang."

The police sources added that they suspected the gang used stolen motorbikes to conduct chain snatchings. "They also removed the number plates of the bikes to make them unrecognisable and ditched them after committing the crime. They divided the loot between them by selling the gold chains at throwaway prices. After Ansari's arrest, who revealed Jafar's involvement, we managed to arrest all the accused by Wednesday," an officer said. The police has also recovered a gold chain and a stolen motorbike from the arrested accused.

Also read: Senior citizen robbed of gold chain by bike-borne snatchers in Mumbai

The other two arrested accused have been identified as Dhiraj Kanojia, 30 and Abdul Hamid alias Shoaib, 28.

Past comes to haunt
Thorat added, "It has been learnt that they have been involved in over 123 chain snatchings across the city. We are further investigating their involvement in these other cases."

The Vile Parle police earlier arrested Deshmukh in 2015, after two of his associates were caught red-handed while attempting to flee, sources added.