A spat over shift timings allegedly led a disgruntled ex-employee of Checkmate Services Private Limited to plan the heist at the Thane-based company earlier this week.
Thane CP Parambir Singh with the recovered booty. Pic/Sameer Markhande
Thane Commissioner of Police Parambir Singh said Akash Chavan alias Chinkya (22), left his job at the company in February this year after he requested that he be given the morning shift so as to allow him to spend quality time with his girlfriend, who had similar timings. When his supervisor refused, he quit his job and decided to "teach his company a lesson", said an officer from the Thane crime branch.
What unravelled after that was one of the smoothest heists in recent times. The police also revealed that it took the robbers three attempts to execute their Rs 9.16-crore heist at Checkmate Services on Tuesday. The police have so far arrested six persons, including current and former employees, and have recovered Rs 4.2 crore of the loot.
"With the help of one Harichandra Mate from Igatpuri in Nashik, we got the address and name of all the accused involved in the crime. Most of them were unknown to each other as different people had arranged different people for the crime. Four persons were brought Mumbai, 10 from Nashik and so on," said Madan Ballal, police Inspector, Wagle Estate crime branch.
Those arrested have been identified as Nitesh Awhad (22) and Mayur Rajendra Kadam (21), residents of Balkum in Thane; Amol Karale (26) and Akash Chavan alias Chinkya, residents of Lokmanya Nagar, Thane; Umesh Suresh Wagh (28) of Nashik and Harichandra Mate (30) from Vadiv in Nashik. Maharashtra DGP Pravin Dixit congratulated the Thane police team and said the firm had not followed RBI guidelines on stocking money.
Current employees and 10 ex-staffers detained in the 48 hours before the police cracked the case.
Splitting the booty
The robbers were to pocket R60 lakh and the drivers had to split Rs 40 lakh aong themselves. Chavan was to get the biggest cut (Rs 1 crore) since he was the mastermind. Around 17 gunny bags - for the 17 perpetrators of the dacoity — were packed in a farmland in Nashik, from where the police recover the money.
> After his row, Akash Chavan hatches the plot with Umesh Wagh, a Nashik resident. Wagh ropes in a club owner in Nashik, who offers 10 henchmen for the dacoity.
> Chavan and Wagh then scope the location of the Thane firm several times.
> An insider, Amol Karale, who had been recommended for the job by Chavan a few months before his departure, passes on information on whether there are too many people inside to carry out the operation. Two attempts go futile after Karale warns them of danger.
> On June 28, Karale refuses to cooperate, but agrees to his cut of the booty.
> After the heist, seven persons in three cars leave for Nashik with the loot. The cash is filled in three drums and a few plastic bags. There was around Rs 25 crore at the firm that night, but since the robbers had run out of drums, they leave the rest of the cash behind
> Chavan monitors the operation from outside, says he would rejoin the others in Nashik in two days
> Chavan is detained by Wagle Estate crime branch after the police learn of his fight; Karale by anti-extortion cell after his statement on why he acquiesced with the robbers' demand on loading the drums in the cars. Police suspected foul play since he is heavyset and could have either run away or taken on three to four robbers, said NT Kadam, senior inspector, anti-extortion cell.
> Based on clues from the duo, the police begin to track down the mobile phones of the accused. Barring the drivers, everybody switches off their phones. But from their call records, cops find out that the accused had been in touch for days before the crime.
> Police trace the drivers to Nashik and other spots. Eight police teams are on the hunt for over 10 others across Nashik, Goa and Tirupati and other areas for their involvement in the heist.