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Rs 9-crore Thane heist: Accused stage fake robbery to hold on to the money

A week after the heist, they surrendered to the police and claimed they had been robbed; cops found it was just a ploy to hold on to the stash

With the police hard on their heels for the Rs 9-crore Thane heist, two of the accused decided to turn themselves in, but could not bring themselves to part with the loot. So, they staged a fake robbery, this time posing as the victims.

“On Tuesday night, they surrendered at the Vani police station and claimed that they had been robbed by a group of 5 to 6 people who fled with Rs 1.4 crore. They claimed that the robbers assaulted them with a huge rock,” said a police officer from Nashik Rural Police.

The two accused, identified as Haribhau Wagh (42) and Kiran Salunkhe (30), are both residents of the CIDCO area at Dutta Nagar in Nashik. After they turned themselves in, the Nashik police called the Thane Crime Branch. “We reached the police station and the procedure for FIR was going on, when the accused changed their statement and claimed that only Rs 1.5 lakh had been robbed. Suspecting something was wrong, we took them to the spot to investigate,” said a Thane police official.

At the supposed crime scene, there was a dhaba where the accused had had dinner the night before. “The dhaba workers and local residents said the two accused had dinner with another man and had left the dhaba safely. Then we found out that the accused had faked the whole thing to avoid being beaten up by the police,” said the Thane cop. The police discovered that Wagh and Salunkhe were accompanied by fellow accused Varun Shinde. “They went into the forest a few metres away from the dhaba. Shinde smashed a rock on Wagh’s and Salunkhe’s legs. In that injured state, the two approached the cops,” said the officer, adding, “Salunkhe’s left leg is fractured and he is admitted in a Nashik hospital. We are looking for Shinde and have recovered Rs 1.4 crore from the accused.”

This brings the total amount of money seized to Rs 8.4 crore. The number of arrested accused has gone up to 13, including two robbers from Nashik and two more accused who surrendered to the Thane police yesterday — Vaibhav Lahamge and Laxman Goverdhane from Navi Mumbai. No cash was recovered from them.

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