High drama ensued at a sparsely populated part of Dombivli after a resident of one of the five buildings in Ayodhya Nagar reported a housebreak in progress in the wee hours yesterday. The five-member police squad dispatched from the Tilak Nagar police station to investigate was soon dodging bullets, as a four-member gang of robbers who had entered an empty flat on the ground floor of one building opened fire and later escaped in a hijacked newspaper delivery vehicle.
A resident of one of the five buildings in the area — Ram, Lakshman, Bharat, Luv and Kush — called around 3.53 am yesterday reporting that a possible robbery was taking place in the ground floor flat in Luv building. The police team consisting of five constables armed with batons reached the spot, and while two cops remained at the gates three went inside to investigate.
They found the front door ajar and while constable Isaq Shaikh took up position outside, Vishwas Chavan and Sunil Thakare entered the flat. Suddenly, there was a flurry of activity and four pistol-wielding men wearing woollen caps and faces masked with handkerchiefs, rushed at them.
Thakare managed to catch hold of one of the men, but an accomplice pressed the muzzle of his weapon to Shaikh’s forehead, forcing him to let the robber go. The drama continued for 15 minutes on the Manpada road, as the police chased the fleeing robbers. The masked men fired five shots at the pursuing policemen forcing them to take cover before resuming the chase. The desperate men flaunted their weapons and forced a tempo delivering newspapers to stop. While one of them forced the tempo driver out of the vehicle and got in, the remaining criminals fired five more shots in the cops’ direction to keep them at bay. The robbers managed to get away from the spot in the tempo, which was later found abandoned at Patri pool in Kalyan.
“The four robbers realised that it was the police and ran out of the flat brandishing their pistols. Thakare managed to catch hold of one of them, but an accomplice came from behind and pointed a gun at Shaikh’s head,” constable Chavan said.
Rajan Ghule, ACP, Manpada division said Thakare had no option but to let go of the robber. Also, the fact that they evaded injury, was a relief.
“While running on Manpada road, the robbers found a tempo that dropped daily newspaper off and brandished their weapons to scare the driver. Once again they began to fire at the police who were chasing them. Luckily everyone escaped unhurt,” Ghule said.
The police recovered a Maruti Esteem parked outside the building and upon investigation realised that it belonged to one Nanda Vaidya of Palgar, and was reported stolen on December 1. During the scuffle inside the flat, Thakare managed to pull off the cap of one robber and saw that the man had extremely long hair. Piecing together the facts and modus operandi, the police suspect the men belong to a notorious gang of burglars going by the name of ‘Sheegalkar gang’.
“All accused were wearing caps and had hidden their faces with handkerchiefs. They had long hair and it appears they belong to the famous Sheegalkar gang,” Chavan said.