Two held from Rajasthan, but mastermind, a dozen others still at large
The police officers who nabbed the duo
The Mira Bhayandar Vasai Virar (MBVV) police have busted an inter-state gang of thieves who have been stealing tempos parked in various parts of India. Addressing a press conference, on Friday, MBVV Commissioner of Police Madhukar Pandey said that two men have been arrested and the cops have recovered 51 tempos of different makes and two cars from their possession. Crime branch sleuths got a lead while investigating a theft case registered last December.
“A case regarding a stolen tempo was registered at Kashimira police station in December. The crime branch had started to conduct a parallel investigation into the matter. The officers busted an inter-state gang of thieves. The net worth of the confiscated 51 tempos and two cars is R4.75 crore. We have arrested two accused—Farooq Tayyab Khan, 36, and Mubin Haris Khan, 40—from Rajasthan's Alwar district. Both of them are drivers by profession and history-shelters,” Pandey told media persons.
Farooq Tayyab Khan; (right) Mubin Haris Khan. Pics/Hanif Patel
Crime branch Inspector Aviraj Kurhade told mid-day that the stolen tempo was taken to Rajasthan via the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway. “We studied footage from more than 500 CCTV cameras installed on the routes which the thieves had used after stealing the tempo in December 2022. We checked the stretch up to 1,200 km,” said Kurhade, who was leading the investigation under the supervision of DCP (crime branch) Avinash Ambure.
While studying the CCTV footage, the crime branch sleuths noticed that the thieves had halted the stolen vehicle near the Gujarat-Rajasthan border where they changed the number plate and vital details of the tempo, including chassis as well as engine numbers.
“Though the number plates had been changed, other details like stickers as well as painted designs on the windshield of the stolen tempo were the same. We kept on examining the route of the vehicle via CCTV footage. At a toll naka in Rajasthan, we noticed that the tempo was allowed to go as toll fee was deducted through a FASTag; whereas, until now, the driver had been paying in cash at the toll naka to reach Rajasthan,” said an officer privy to the investigation.
The stolen vehicles
“We retrieved the details of the FASTag from the toll naka and retrieved the Know Your Customer (KYC) of the FASTag, and got a mobile number, which belonged to Farooq,” said the officer.The investi gating team retrieved mobile tower locations based on the mobile number and learnt that they were along the routes of the stolen tempo. “We kept on tracking the routes in the CCTV footage and reached Alwar,” said the officer.
"Thieving is common among the youth in Alwar," said another crime branch officer, who added, “The tempting offer of beautiful brides comes to those who have committed a good number of thefts. According to them, thieving is not an offence but a profession in the locality. Inspector Kurhade said, “Whenever a police team arrives to arrest the thieves in their taluka, the whole village blocks the path of policemen and indulges in open firing and stone-pelting.”
It was a dangerous bid to enter their den, so the MBVV cops, with the support of their counterparts in Alwar, gathered intelligence about Farooq. “We learnt that Farooq would play cricket at a particular ground. After he reached there, we nabbed him. His interrogation led to the arrest of his accomplice Mubin. We can say that both of them are just cogs and the mastermind is still at large,” Kurhade told mid-day.
“Over a dozen accused, including the mastermind, are yet to be arrested. We cracked the case on January 3 and took months to recover all the tempos stolen by the gang,” he added. The arrests have solved a total of 22 cases registered at various police stations in Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
No of cases linked to thefts