Taking advantage of surging crowds who linger on in dark nooks on Juhu beach after Ganpati Visarjan, a gang of robbers is using a unique modus operandi to lure and loot infatuated men. Don't trust a flirtatious woman in a saree, is all we can say
If your plan for the day is to head to Juhu beach for a last dekko of the elephant God before he heads off into the sea on the final day of the annual Ganesh utsav today, watch out for a gang of cross-dressing robbers.
Juhu beach's lifeguards managed to nail five out of the 10-member gang
While thefts at the beach tend to rise every year during Ganpati festivities, this year, members of the Juhu Lifeguards Association have unearthed a unique racket that's responsible for looting unsuspecting Ganpati revellers who hang around after completing the rituals, especially in the poorly-lit corners behind JW Marriot Hotel and Hotel Tulip Star.
"These incidents tend to occur between 11 pm and 3 am," says a lifeguard at the beach, on the condition of anonymity. Over the last few days, his colleagues have stumbled on at least 20 revellers lying on the beach, beaten or injured, while they were on patrol. Another lifeguard explains, "The men we find complain of being lured by a woman into a dark corner before a group of goons swoop in, beat them and rob them of their money and cellphones."
"It's two young men who dress up as women, wearing sarees, wigs and jewellery. They walk around in the crowd, winking, blowing kisses, and make overtures at young men who roam the beach. Soon, they lure these men to a secluded spot, where five to seven of their gang members land up. The gang then beats up their victims, alleging sexual harassment, and in the melee, robs them of their valuables," he adds.
After receiving a number of such complaints from revellers in the last few days, the Lifeguards Association was on high alert on Friday night, and managed to nab five out of the group of 10 who were up to their antics. Two lifeguards were patrolling the beach near Hotel Tulip Star around 11.45 pm, when they saw a man being beaten up. Suspecting that the incident was part of the robbery racket, they alerted 12 other lifeguards, who accompanied them as they rescued the victim and nabbed the culprits.
"We were able to catch only five. The others, who had the loot, got away. When we took them to the police station, they were issued a warning and let gone. But we managed to click pictures of them before we took them to the police station," says a lifeguard.
The lifeguards claim there are a number of gangs that operate in the dark portions behind the hotels along the Juhu Chowpatty stretch. T Kulkarni, a police official at Santacruz police station says, "Seven such cases have been registered. We are looking into the matter. The crowds are always a problem on the final day of Visarjan, but now, with news of this racket, vigil will be stepped up today."