Stranger greeting you like an old friend? Beware!

Published: Dec 17, 2012, 07:46 IST | Sagar Rajput |

Police have nabbed three members of a gang who would steal chains, rings, watches from pedestrians on the pretext of greeting them; one of them is still at large

The next time a stranger stops you on the street and extends his hand for a hearty shake or insists on giving you a jaadu ki jhappi, think long and hard before humouring him. 

The Kasturba police have arrested a trio who used to steal valuables from pedestrians on the pretext exchanging pleasantries with them or asking for directions. The fourth member of the gang is still at large.

The accused used to remove rings from their victims’ fingers or watches from their wrist while shaking hands with them, claiming that they had met before. They would act friendly, and casually putting their arms around their victims’ neck, they surreptitiously detached chains. People would realise that they have been conned long after the accused had vanished. Illustrations/Amit Bandre

The accused Vijay Dattaram Tambe (42), Ganesh Shankar Mishri (35) and Rakesh Rajan Jadhav (30) were arrested on Wednesday, when their suspicious antics caught the attention of a police team.

Their modus operandi involved distracting pedestrians and dexterously lifting valuables from their bodies. One of their strategies involved posing as plainclothes police officers. Senior Inspector of the Kasturba police station Bharat Worlikar said, “The men would inform their targets that there had been a murder in the area, and would tell them to remove their jewellery and wrap them in a handkerchief. With a quick sleight of hand, the jewellery would be removed from the handkerchief and replaced with stones. The crooks would then run off with the jewellery, leaving their victims behind with a handkerchief full of stones.”

Tambe, Mishri and Jadhav are history-sheeters with 28, 10 and 13 cases filed against them respectively at different police stations in Mumbai. Till date, Vijay has been arrested five times, Ganesh seven times and Rakesh eight times.

The police revealed that Vijay is the mastermind behind the thefts, while a fourth accused, identified as Rajesh Upadhyay, is absconding. Of the three, only Ganesh was employed as a fruit seller at Vashi Naka.

The three accused have been booked under Sections 420 (cheating), 170 (impersonating a public servant) and 34 (common intention). The accused were presented in court on Thursday and were remanded in police custody till December 18. 

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