Smooth criminal: Man steals SUV from hotel valet, caught on camera

He is seen in CCTV footage talking on the phone, taking the key and driving away

The Vile Parle police are trying to establish the identity of a smooth criminal who sauntered into the valet parking area of The Orchid, a luxury hotel in Vile Parle, swiped a key and made off with a Toyota Fortuner on Friday - all this in broad daylight.

The Toyota Fortuner lent by Kulwant Singh
The Toyota Fortuner lent by Kulwant Singh

Police said Manav Deep Singh, a businessman from Chennai arrived in Mumbai with his family on Friday for a vacation. He borrowed a Toyota Fortuner from a friend, Kulwant Singh, at the domestic airport and made his way towards The Orchid. Around 11 am, Manav entered the hotel, parked his car near the flag pole area and handed the keys over a valet. “When he returned around 9 pm, he did not find the SUV in the parking area and informed the hotel staff about it immediately,” said Kulwant.

The man was caught on CCTV camera sauntering into the valet parking area. Pics/Rajesh Gupta
The man was caught on CCTV camera sauntering into the valet parking area. Pics/Rajesh Gupta

Eye on the prize
When the hotel authorities looked at the CCTV camera footage, they found that the SUV had been driven away around 12.30 pm by a man in a green shirt. In the footage, the person is seen sitting near the valet parking area, talking on the phone, and 15 minutes later — when no one was manning the valet parking — picking up the SUV’s keys and driving away.

It was only after they questioned the staff about it did the hotel authorities realise that the thief was a stranger.

The hotel authorities, along with Manav and Kulwant, then approached the Vile Parle police station and registered an FIR on theft.

“We are checking the CCTV camera footage to trace the accused and will check our records of criminals as well,” said a senior Vile Parle police officer.

The hotel has given a letter to the family, a copy of which is available with mid-day, where it has accepted that its negligence led to the theft.

Varun Sahani, general manager of The Orchid, said, “We will do whatever required to help the police find the accused. We have been told by the cops that a gang stealing vehicles is operating in the western suburbs.
We have also circulated the photograph of the accused to all hotel associations.”

The car is registered in the name of Kulwant’s brother, Indrajeet, who runs an air-conditioning unit business in Wadala.

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