Thane: The crime branch of Thane police on Wednesday claimed to have busted a cigarette-theft racket with the arrest of seven persons and recovery of stolen items worth Rs 1.03 crore.
On December 16, last year, the accused allegedly looted 312 cigarette cartons worth Rs 1.50 crore after stopping a tempo heading for the company's godown from Ambernath. The booty was then taken to a godown at Shil Phata near Thane, DCP Parag Manere said.
After learning that the cartons had been sold to a trader at Ulhasngar here, police arrested seven of the accused and recovered 195 cigarette cartons worth Rs 1.03 crore, he said.
Hunt is on to arrest godown owner Nazir Anna and the leader of the gang Anil Ahire, the DCP said. Senior inspector Niteen Thackeray identified the arrested men as Firoz Rehamanuddin Khan, Abdul Mohamamd Sharif Pathan, Hanif Ahmed Khatil, Sher Ali Salim Sayyed, Mohammad Hanif Allabax Shaikh, Akash Dighambar Fad and Ashik Lucky Prasad Chourasia (the paan-shop owner who allegedly bought the cigarettes).
Firoz had been earlier arrested in a similar case by the Shivaji Nagar police station.
The gang sold the stolen cigarettes at around half the marked price. There are inter-state gangs which loot cigarette cartons and police are probing whether the accused were involved in similar crimes elsewhere, Manere added.