Three juveniles made away with a CCTV camera and damaged another one at the 20-year-old Jama Masjid in Kondhwa in the wee hours of Monday. Their actions were captured by the very cameras they were targeting and the footage from the central monitor room helped the police catch them within 24 hours.
Aged between 13 and 16 years, the three minors already figure in police records in vehicle theft cases.
The police said the real purpose the three came to the mosque was theft of two-wheelers and they tried to damage the four CCTV cameras installed there to prevent their identification.
All the juveniles reside in a slum in Kondhwa and are school dropouts.
“One of the three juveniles, a 13-year-old, was released from the observation home two days ago and it seems that he was the mastermind in the theft bid,” said Assistant Police Inspector S G Thopate from the Kondhawa police station yesterday.
A complaint was filed on Monday morning at the Kondhwa police station by the caretaker of the mosque, Maniyaar Ali (50), who lives with his family at the rear of the mosque.
“I came to know about the incident in the morning, when my co-worker at the mosque informed me that one camera was missing and another was in a damaged condition. We immediately rushed to the central room and checked the recording from the night and were stunned to see the daredevilry of three juveniles,” said Ali. “Around 4 am, I had sensed somebody moving on the premises of the mosque and stepped out of my house to look, but could not find anybody and went back in.”
The CCTV footage from the central room of the mosque shows the three juveniles arriving at 4.10 am. One of the suspects first covers his face with a handkerchief and then tries to break a CCTV camera using a catapult, but does not succeed. A second juvenile then targets another camera with the same catapult, but he also fails. Finally, one of the three climbs up the wall and takes out a camera.
The footage then shows a minor trying take out another CCTV camera but failing, following which he damages the camera with the help of a stone.
After this, the minors sense some movement, which is Ali emerging from his house, and they escape with one CCTV camera.
Ali said the cost of the stolen CCTV camera was around Rs 12,000 while another was badly damaged.
Thopate, who is investigating the case, said that after seeing the CCTV footage, the police were left in no doubt who the culprits were and nabbed them in the wee hours of Tuesday from their homes in Kondhwa.
“All three suspects are on police records as they were earlier detained for vehicle thefts and the 13-year-old juvenile was in the observation home after he was nabbed in a petty theft case,” said Thopate.