Mumbai Crime: Wily burglar gets neighbour to switch off alarm, steals Rs 27 lakh

May 18, 2017, 22:35 IST | Santosh Wagh

Despite the apartment on Perry Cross Road in western Mumbai suburb of Bandra being rigged with high-tech alarm, burglar pulls off Rs 27 lakh heist that leaves police stunned

Illustrations/Uday Mohite
Illustrations/Uday Mohite

How do you break into a house that is fitted with a state-of-the-art alarm system? You get the neighbour to switch it off. That's exactly how a burglar pulled off a heist of Rs 27 lakh at a Bandra residence last week, says the Bandra police. Francis Nerora, a naval consultant, lives on Perry Cross Road in Bandra West, where he spends five days a week, and the remaining in Pune.

To prevent break-ins, Nerora installed a high-tech anti-theft system in his Bandra apartment, equipped with motion sensors. An alarm is triggered by the slightest touch to a door or windows.

The system was also primed to send Nerora a text message to explain where the intrusion was taking place — the door or windows. As Nerora was out of home often, he gave the system's remote to his neighbour, so it could be switched off in case of false alarms.

On May 9, at around noon, the alarm suddenly went off, and the neighbour stepped out to check Nerora's flat. He checked all points of entry – the door, windows, but found no signs of an intrusion, so he switched off the alarm.

He then called Nerora and informed him about the incident. Nerora hadn't received a text message about the break-in, so he wasn't worried. He returned the same evening to reset the alarm since only he had access to the password.

When he entered the flat, he saw that his bedroom cupboard was open. Gold and diamond jewellery, a luxury watch worth Rs 10 lakh, and cash worth Rs 1.5 lakh was missing. In all, Nerora had lost Rs 27 lakh. He then spotted a 1-sq-foot patch cut out of the window grille. The Bandra police turned up but was at first, confused by how the thief had managed to circumvent the advanced alarm system. That's when they realised that the thief had cleverly touched the window to trigger the alarm, and then hid until the neighbour had finished checking the house and switched off the system. Once the neighbour was gone, he cut open the window grille and entered the house without any fear of tripping the motion sensors.

"It looks like an inside job, as the thief seemed fully aware of how the system worked. That's why, when alarm went off, he hid till the neighbour switched it off. He must have been tipped off," said an officer, adding that the Bandra Police has registered a case against an unidentified person under Indian Penal Code Sections 457 (house-breaking) and 380 (theft).

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