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Undertrial would appear in court, then rob flats

Cops arrest a gang of four hired robbers and their ringleader, a Delhi woman, who would organise the break-ins each time she came to Mumbai to attend court hearings for cases pending against her

Believe it or not, cops have arrested an undertrial who would use her trips to the Mumbai courts as an opportunity to accomplish more nocturnal feats as the ringleader of a formidable housebreaking gang. Officers of unit VIII of the Mumbai police Crime Branch unit arrested five housebreakers yesterday, two of whom are women who hail from Vile Parle. The mastermind behind the gang has been identified as Raziya Sultan Saifi (43).

Caught on the job: Saifi would take to the streets with her entourage
in her Hyundai Accent, and rob locked up apartments, knowing that cops
were unlikely to suspect her motives and tail her right after an appearance
in court


A resident of Delhi, Saifi has committed 53 robberies across Mumbai till date. She would frequent the city to appear for the hearings of the 14 cases pending against her, and wouldn't return to the national capital before conducting another theft, each time.

Saifi, who owns a private vehicle and an apartment in Mumbai, has been running the gang for the last 15 years. Her husband had joined the fray a few years back.

Yesterday, the cops received a tip-off that Saifi was in Mumbai, and that her gang was going to attempt a house break-in at Vile Parle. The police officers then ensnared all the gang membersĀ -- including Shabnam Shaikh (35), Sabir Malik (24), Abdullah Momin (43) and Radhe (22), an orphan from a Mankhurd children's home who dropped out of Don Bosco school some years ago.

Modus operandi
According to cops, Saifi would visit Mumbai every month to present herself at court for the hearings of the cases that were pending against her. After each court appearance, she would take to the streets with her entourage in her Hyundai Accent, and rob locked up apartments, knowing that cops were unlikely to suspect her motives and tail her right after her appearance in court.

"Saifi and her sister Shabnam targeted flats in buildings that weren't manned by security guards. She used to park her car a few metres away from the targeted building and dismount. She would be dressed in expensive clothes, which helped her enter the buildings unnoticed. Having walked in casually, she would recce the premises, looking out for flats which were locked up," said Deepak Phatangare, senior police inspector of the Crime Branch.

After narrowing in on an unguarded apartment of her choice, Saifi would return to the waiting vehicle, and instruct her gang members about the nitty-gritty of the apartment. She would then wait patiently in her car, while her minions broke into the house and cleaned it out. The minute they returned with the booty, she would drive away with them.

"The entire robbery would be wrapped up in half an hour. The gang members were seasoned professionals," said Phatangare.

As a measure of precaution, Saifi would hire new robbers from Delhi each time, so that they wouldn't be identified. "Since the robbers were hired goons, Saifi didn't trust them. After each break-in, she
would take them to her apartment in the city and search them thoroughly, in case they had retained some of the ill-gotten gains," said API Sanjeev Gaude.

The Crime Branch officers have handed the gang members over to the Vile Parle police station for further investigations.

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