For a few days, the Matunga police had to rummage through the sundry items of a dumping ground, in the hope of finding a bag full of gold and silver, that had apparently found its way there after a sweeper mistook it for refuse and tossed it in a municipal garbage van. Or so she said. The incident that drove the cops to the ground occurred on May 12, when Hiten Popatlal Jain (25), a resident of Sonawila Road, Parsi Colony, Matunga came home from a bank in the neighbourhood around 10 am.
He had returned after withdrawing around 3 kg of silver biscuits and 212 g of gold biscuits, along with cash worth Rs 70,000, meant to be paid to a carpenter. While opening the door to the house, he set the bag of bullion on the floor, and while entering the house, forgot it there. “Jain forgot to take the valuables inside the house. Only when his father Popatlal, a chartered accountant, came home and asked for it, did he remember. But they could not find the bag anywhere in and around the house,” said Anant Jadhav, sub-inspector of Matunga police station.
Harried, the father and son then approached the Matunga police and registered an FIR against the unknown accused under Section 380 (theft in dwelling house). “As we began investigating the case and inquiring about people who may have come to the premises when the theft took place, we learnt that a female sweeper, a driver and one visitor had come to the building,” said Dilip Suryawanshi, assistant police commissioner of Matunga division.
“As it was a bag, chances were that the sweeper had picked it up. We tracked her and she told us that she did pick up a white polythene bag lying outside the Jains’ door. Thinking that it was litter, she said she had dropped it in the garbage van that comes to the locality, which then must have taken it to the Deonar dumping ground,” said Surywanshi.
Police then started tracking the movement of the bag. After inquiring of several persons including the watchman of the dumping ground and searching for the bag, cops finally told the victim that it seemed difficult to find it. “Meanwhile, we learnt from the victim that the sweeper, Maya Naresh Singh (32), a resident of Matunga labour camp, was not seen at work since the incident. We immediately traced Maya and picked her up. She gave us vague answers initially, but later, she confessed that she had stolen the bag,” said Jadhav. The police arrested her on May 23, and managed to recover all the valuables.