Ulhasnagar gold heist: Modus operandi of theft points to Jharkhand gang

Updated: Dec 28, 2016, 17:58 IST | Vijay Kumar Yadav |

Two watchmen were suspected to be behind the Ulhasnagar gold heist. However, investigators now feel that a gang from Jharkhand did it, as the modus operandi of the burglary matches their style of robberies

Mannapuram Gold Loan branch in Ulhasnagar that was looted
Mannapuram Gold Loan branch in Ulhasnagar that was looted

Two watchmen were suspected to be behind the Ulhasnagar gold heist. However, investigators now feel that a gang from Jharkhand did it, as the modus operandi of the burglary matches their style of robberies.

Also read - Thane: Watchman burgles Rs 9 crore gold by making holes in walls

The hole made in the wall of the water pump room. Holes were made with gas cutters in the safety vault that held the gold
The hole made in the wall of the water pump room. Holes were made with gas cutters in the safety vault that held the gold

Investigators probing the Rs 9 crore heist involving 35kg of gold at Mannapuram Gold Loan branch in Ulhasnagar, suspect a gang from a small village of Jharkhand, which has expertise in breaking high security safe, could be behind the crime. A team of policemen has already reached Jharkhand following important leads. Other police teams are hunting for some gang members in West Bengal and Bihar, as investigators suspect the heist was a handiwork of two gangs including a Nepali gang.

The theft
The unknown thieves fled with the gold on Sunday night from a branch of the gold loaning company located in Sai Krupa Palace housing society in Ulhasnagar. They first made a hole in the shared wall of the society’s water pump room and the branch’s toilet to enter the strong room and then cut holes into the safety vault with gas cutters to steal the gold.

A source said that professional gang of thieves from the town of Rajmahal in Jharkhand’s Sahibganj district, is strongly suspected to be behind the heist as the gang has expertise in opening such high security vaults with that method. The gang’s name had earlier cropped up in many heists across various states including in Kamothe, Kalachwokie and Virar. The gang is known to sell looted jewellery using their already established networks of jewellers who buy stolen ornaments.

Their modus operandi
The gang generally goes by two modus operandi. One: by starting a fruit-selling business in a shop adjacent to the target gold loaning agency or bank and then entering the offices by making holes in the walls they cut open the vault and clean out valuables. Two: By doing a recce of vulnerable loan agencies or banks and then bribing the security guard and carrying out the heist.

In this case, the former and current watchmen of the housing society are also suspects. Phones of both the watchmen are switched off. In one watchman’s room, the police have recovered some material that was used in the theft. However, there has been an unusual element to this heist. An officer said, “This Jharkhand gang usually does not cover their face with mask. But his time they did and also cut the wires of the CCTV camera.”

Not tough to enter
Speaking about the burglary, investigators said that gaining entry inside the agency is not a tough task for any gang of thieves, but cutting open the high security iron safe can only be done by an expert who is well versed with the multi layer locking system of the safe. “The door of the safety vault is nearly one feet in width. Cutting open it even with the gas cutters is a time consuming and almost impossible task. To open the door of the vault, the thieves didn’t need much strength, but professional tricks,” said an officer privy to the probe.

Cutting through layers
Officer further explained that the multiple walls in the vault’s door have gaps in between. “Using gas cutters, the thieves made a hole on the upper and lower sides of the door, making small passage for hands to reach the upper and lower levers of the vault. The door was opened by operating the lever locks by hand and then the another grilled door inside was cut opened and gold was cleaned out of the vault,” said the officer. Most banks and gold loaning agencies usually use vaults with such a safety lock system. Multiple teams of Vithalwadi police and local crime branch have been formed to investigate the case. They will be including in their probe analysis of dump data in the area and suspicious movements in the area in past fortnight, said a senior police officer.

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