Worried by last year's string of burglaries, Mumbai cops ban mango traders

After a spate of jewellery shop heists last year by burglars posing as mango sellers, police have asked shop owners to avoid renting their shops to Jharkhand's mango sellers

Mango sellers from Jharkhand are going to have a tough time renting shops in the city this year. Following three major incidents of jewellery heists committed by burglars posing as mango sellers, who deliberately hired shops besides jewellery units, the Mumbai police have refused to give permits to such mango sellers this time.

No aam-selling this: In the absence of shops to rent, the mango sellers might have to sell their wares like this
No aam-selling this: In the absence of shops to rent, the mango sellers might have to sell their wares like this

As the mango season starts off in March, these mango sellers take several shops on rent for a period of three months. Most of the mango sellers who rent shops are from Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. They sell almost 90 per cent of mangoes in Mumbai every year.

Shop owners in the city who rent out their shops to these sellers are ruing the Mumbai police’s rule, while the jewellery shop owners have welcomed the decision. The shop owners get double to triple rates while renting their shops for three months.

No permission
Rakesh Trivedi, a shop owner from Dadar said, “I have been giving my shop to people from Jharkhand for the last 12 years. They are extremely trustworthy and reliable. Even their customers are the same and they know these sellers. This year the cops have asked me to not give them my shop. I earn almost Rs 1.5 lakh from them every year.

“I told the cops that I will give all documents and papers to them, but they have refused to grant permission this year. Now, people from the same country cannot do business in another city,” he added.

Last year, three major incidents took place where accused from mango shops drilled holes into the jewellery shops and stole jewellery worth several lakh rupees.

Don’t rent for 3 months
Regarding the ban, a senior police officer from Kalachowkie police station said, “These people from Jharkhand commit thefts in jewellery shops by renting mango shops for a period of three months. These people are not reliable. We have given strict instructions that such shops should not be given on rent for three months. If they wish to rent it, they must do so for a proper 11 month agreement with all documents.”

The officer added, “The Jharkhand police does not help our police when they go to arrest them. A big racket is being operated from there. We had a meeting with jewellery shop owners 15 days ago, when this decision was taken.”

Welcome relief
This decision has come as a welcome relief for several jewellery shop owners, especially those whose shops were robbed of several valuables last year. Jeetendra Solanki, whose shop was robbed of jewellery R82 lakh last year said, “I welcome the police’s decision. The cops are doing their duty and they are right in their decision. We know how badly we suffered after the incident. The cops had held a meeting and all the jewellers had attended it. These people take shops for selling mango and commit such crimes. In the last year, over 10 such incidents have taken place in Mumbai.”

Share responsiblity
Another jeweller, Namdev Thorat said, “I welcome the police’s decision, but brokers and estate agents are more responsible for such incidents. In my case, the broker showed the accused several shops but they chose a shop adjacent to mine. They even gave an extra R1 lakh to the agent. Only very little jewellery has been recovered in my case. Shops given to such people for period of two to three months should be stopped completely.

Thorat’s Virar shop was looted by mango sellers from Jharkhand, who took away jewellery worth R2.40 crore. He added, “While the cops have arrested some accused in our case from Jharkhand, very little jewellery has been recovered.”

Why discriminate?
Reacting to the decision, Salim Qureshi, a mango seller from Jharkhand said, “I have been selling mangoes in the Lalbaug area for the last 12 years. Through the years, my customers have also remained the same and they know me very well. I sell mangoes for these three months, and the rest of the year, I sell fish. I don’t understand this is discrimination [against us] in our own country. For few such incidents, we all have to suffer. I will go back to my village if I am not allowed to do business.”

DCP says
Speaking to mid-day, DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni (crime) said, “It is advised that they don’t rent shops to such people for such a period. In the past, many incidents have taken place where accused dug holes in the jewellery shop and looted it. Very soon, I will issue a central notice to all police stations for the same. If at all shops are given on rent adjacent to jewellery shops, all proper documentation and papers should be checked.”

The Rs 82-lakh heist in Kalachowkie
In the last week of June 2015, robbers struck HB Solanki Jewellers in Kalachowkie. Around eight accused, who owned one mango shop besides the jewellery shop committed the crime. They drilled holes through their shop, entered an empty mill and drilled another hole in the jewellery shop and stole valuables worth Rs 82 lakh.

KalachowkiePic/Sameer Markande

The Rs 77-lakh plunder in Borivli
The robbery in Borivli took place on 22 June, 2015 at the Megha Jewellers shop in Shimpoli. Over eight accused committed the crime. The accused told the owner of the shop adjacent to the jeweller's that they sold mangoes and gave R1 lakh for three months. The owner was happy with the money and did not bother making any documents. The accused became familiar with the shop's interiors and position of the CCTV.

BorivliPic/Nimesh Dave

The day the shop was closed, the accused used gas cutters to cut a hole through their rented shop and sneaked into the jewellery shop.

The accused covered their faces with handkerchiefs and decamped with jewellery worth Rs 77 lakh. The police had initially arrested the owners of the plot and the estate agent for selling the plot to the accused without making a rent agreement and informing the police.

The Rs 2.40-crore loot in Virar
In February 2015, a gang of robbers drilled a hole in the common wall of Omkar Jewellers in Virar from their rental shop, and decamped with jewellery worth Rs 2.40 crore. The accused had taken the adjacent shop on rent under the guise of selling mangoes just 10 days before the incident. The accused even stole hard disks of the CCTV.


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