BUTCHERS from in and around Lonavala are literally asking, “who moved our goats?”
In the last eight months, there have have been five cases of theft of goats from shops selling mutton in Lonavala and surrounding areas. Police are yet to crack any of these cases.
When Vishal Ghone, who owns a shop in the Lonavala mutton market, opened his shop on a morning last weekend, he saw that as many as 46 goats locked up in a room behind the market were all gone.
“It was a big loss for me. Those goats were worth over Rs three lakh. We had bought the goats from Chakan market the previous night.
We immediately registered an FIR at Lonavala police station.” says Ghone.
Around eight months ago, in a similar incident, Ahmed Shaikh, who owns a mutton shop in Siddharth Nagar area in Lonavala, lost as many as 25 goats to thieves who broke a wall of his shop and decamped with the animals which he had bought the previous night. Shaikh rebuilt the wall, but within a week, his shop was again targeted. This time, 20 goats were stolen from his shop.
Another incident took place three months ago when one more mutton shop owner from same area in Lonavala lost 20 goats to thieves.
In another incident, Shankar Chavan of Mahu village in Vadgaon Maval near Lonavala, who breeds and sells animals, lost 30 animals worth over Rs 1.5 lakh in the second week of February.
Hemant Kamble, who heads the Lonavala Butchers Association says, “The goats are sold in price range of Rs 5,000 to 30,000 each normally, depending on the weight and quality. Theft of so many of these goats are a big loss to these shop owners. We buy them from Chakan, Aalephata, Yewat or Lonand, where these goats are sold on lots in weekly markets. We have a reason to suspect these criminals keep a watch on us and strike when the goats are unguarded.”
“The Lonavala municipality is also partially responsible for this situation. No facilities are provided to the mutton market. There are no cameras. The condition of the building and other infrastructure is very bad,” Kamble says.
A shop owner from the market says, “We suspect involvement of some gangs from Pimpri Chinchwad area in these theft incidents. Police know about them but have not done anything.”
Police suspect the thieves come in small tempos or transport vehicles and are well aware of the animal behaviour and how to handle them.
Police sub-inspector S T Ingole of Lonavala town police station, who is probing the latest case, says, “We have checked the footages from security cameras on the roads approaching the market. There are no clues. We are now checking some criminals on record. We have some clues and we are working on these.”