Coronavirus outbreak: Amid lockdown, robbers smell opportunity in black market, loot liquor shops

Updated: 02 April, 2020 07:44 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

There have also been reports of a miscreant's breaking into a country liquor warehouse by drilling holes in the wall in Amravati

This picture has been used for representation purpose only
This picture has been used for representation purpose only

The 21-day nationwide lockdown has resulted in major inconvenience for the tipplers who are finding it extremely difficult to score a peg. However, pouncing on the alcohol dearth, 'opportunistic' burglars have started targeting liquor shops and permit rooms to make a quick buck by selling the stolen liquor in a bullish black market.

State's second capital Nagpur, which records one of the highest liquor sales in Maharashtra after Mumbai and Pune saw four thefts in 48 hours — the highest in the state.

The four thefts amounting to R4 lakh have now diverted the attention of the police department to liquor shops and permit rooms instead of solely focusing on COVID-19 pandemic bandobast. In one of incidents in Nagpur at Suvidha Bar in Sadar area, the thieves were surprisingly kinder because they did not touch the cash counter, but instead just picked up the branded whiskey and rum bottles. Two suspects were arrested later after reviewing the CCTV footage.

The second theft happened in the MIDC police jurisdiction station. Country liquor's 33 boxes worth R73,000 were stolen between March 18 and March 31. Shop owner Shriselam Balgoniwar reported the incident on Tuesday after he visited the shop.

Two more thefts were reported in permit rooms on Wednesday. Country made foreign liquor (CMFL) worth R1 lakh was stolen from Anand Bar situated in Nandanvan area of Nagpur city, while Govind Bar in Dhapewada in Saoner tehsil reported the theft of CMFL worth R40,000.

There have also been reports of a miscreant's breaking into a country liquor warehouse by drilling holes in the wall in Amravati. According to the owner, around 250 boxes of alcohol worth R5.50 lakh were stolen. The incident was reported on Tuesday.

In one theft in Solapur, the thieves rather than stealing high-end alcohol whisked inexpensive popular brands worth R57,000. In Sangli district where COVID-19 measures are very strict in view of 24 positive cases, thieves broke open two shops each in Sangli and Miraj.

A senior IPS officer from Nagpur blamed the thefts on habitual burglars. "Owing to the lockdown, there is a huge demand for liquor in black market. The demand has increased because the inter-district and inter-state borders are sealed by the police who allow only essential commodity to move in and out," he said, expecting the demand-supply ratio to create more problems before the lockdown is lifted by April 14.

March 18
Day liquor shops, permit rooms were shut across Maharashtra

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First Published: 02 April, 2020 07:14 IST

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