Two bike-borne men, who had robbed a tomato trader in Narayangaon, were caught after a hot chase — nothing less than a scene from a movie — with police on bikes and cars racing behind the criminals. They were finally caught in a forest area after local villagers teamed up with police to search the jungle. The entire chase took place after an alert woman tipped off the police about the direction in which the thieves were fleeing.
Around 6 pm on Tuesday, Siddharth Kashid, a wholesale trader of tomatoes at Narayangaon market, was on his way home in his car and was carrying Rs 3 lakh. At some distance from Narayangaon, on Pune-Nashik Highway, two men on a bike stopped his car near a dhaba and looted his cash at knife-point.
As the two fled towards Nashik, Kashid started chasing them in his car, but as he approached Aalephata, his car turned on its side due to high speed and he could not chase the robbers further.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (Junnar division) Jayashree Desai said: “Fortunately, he escaped unhurt but he could not chase them further. He approached a village woman who was nearby. She had the number of Aalephata police station on her mobile phone. She immediately informed the station and the police swung into action. Soon barricades were set up on the highway and our team waited for the two suspects, whose description was given to us by the woman.”
Inspector Krantikumar Patil of Aalephata police station, who was at the barricading, said: “The two came towards the barricading around 6.30 pm. But they did not slow down and they rammed the barricades. They fled towards Belhe in the other direction, off the highway.
Then we began our chase with some constables on bikes and some others in car. We chased them in the hilly roads and as they reached Santwadi village, they abandoned their bike and entered the forests.”
Some village boys told the police about the exact direction in which the two fled after they entered the village. Inspector Patil said: “It was dark but within minutes at least 50 villagers gathered to help us and we together started fanning out in the forests. Within half-an-hour, the villagers spotted the two who were hiding.” The two have been identified as Ajay Tamanche (34) and Vishnu Garange (22), both residents of Ahmadabad. According to the police, the two had committed several thefts in in Pune city and rural areas in the past.
“The chase was a great example of how villagers can help the police in investigations and be our source of information. We felicitated the villagers who were part of us and in two days we will felicitate the woman who first made the call. We have recovered Rs 50,000 out of the total cash that was looted and we suspect they have hidden the remaining money somewhere. We will soon find it.”