Kadaluri Shiva and wife Nagalakshmi owned two cars, lived in a three-bedroom, well-furnished house in Narsingi, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, and went on frequent holidays to Singapore and Malaysia, and closer home, to Kerala and Goa. According to the Hyderabad police, all that came from the earnings made by the couple from chain-snatchings, numbering more than 500 and spread across the city’s Cyberabad area. Their alleged run came to an end on August 15 night when Shiva was killed in an “encounter” after he had reportedly stabbed a police official.
The 30-year-old Shiva’s modus operandi, police say, was simple. Holding a piece of paper with an address written on it, he would approach a woman standing or walking alone, seemingly to ask for directions. As the intended victim tried to figure out the address, he would allegedly snatch her gold chain and flee on a motorcycle. An accomplice would be parked nearby in a car. Shiva would then swap vehicles and flee.
At other times, Nagalakshmi would set off in her car to scout a target area, looking for women walking alone and wearing expensive jewellery. She would alert him on his mobile, and he would allegedly attack the woman and take the jewellery. Many victims ended up with deep gashes or cuts from the snatching. Nagalakshmi would apparently keep a watch from a distance.
Their gang of associates would then get to work, exchanging the stolen gold ornaments for cash within the next few hours. Nagalakshmi would also approach private financiers and finance companies and mortgage the gold for cash using fake identity proofs.
Police have arrested Nagalakshmi, Jagdish and Raj Kumar and recovered 30 tolas of gold, and seized two cars and a sports motorbike. A search is on for the other alleged gang members. Police are also rounding up employees of private finance companies who mortgaged the stolen gold without verifying the authenticity of ID proofs submitted by the gang.
A native of Nellore and a college dropout, Shiva allegedly took to crime in 2002. He committed thefts in Tirupati before moving to Hyderabad, where he met M Jagdish, his alleged first partner in crime. The duo were arrested in 2004 for theft. After their release, they moved into a room in Film Nagar, a residential area adjoining Banjara Hills, where many Telugu film actors and others trying to get a foothold in Tollywood live. It was here that Shiva met Nagalakshmi, a 22-year-old who had moved to Hyderabad from Vijayawada hoping to act in television serials. Her career did not take off and the two got married in 2006.
None of the complainants and victims ever mentioned Nagalakshmi being present at the time of the snatching. She has no record of committing a crime on her own except selling or mortgaging stolen goods. Police arrested her immediately after her husband was shot dead, releasing her temporarily so that continued…