On Wednesday night, two men in a silver Maruti Suzuki Brezza found themselves surrounded by a nine-member police team from Shahdara district. At the steering wheel, Kunal (40) — wanted for stealing around 100 new cars over the past two decades — was in no mind to surrender. He reversed the vehicle, hit a police van, and sped past three officers to ram into another vehicle. That’s when sub-inspector Rohtash realised how grave the situation was. “Kunal’s criminal dossier showed he had fired at policemen in the past,” he said.
Kunal got out of the car, swung a heavy iron rod and injured three policemen. He then whipped out a pistol, but Rohtash subdued him. “Thankfully, he used a toy pistol,” Rohtash said.
The anti-auto theft squad of Shahdara district eventually arrested Kunal and his associate Shahid for stealing over 100 cars. DCP (Shahdara) Meghna Yadav said Kunal was notorious in the district as he stole cars at night, and had given PCR vans a slip.
Kunal has 21 cases registered against him. Police said he evaded arrest by getting plastic surgery and changed his name and address. He goes by many aliases, the current one being ‘Bhoothnath’, said police.
According to officers, it takes him under five minutes to steal a car. He wears a black mask and gloves and gets clues on stealing the car by glancing at the serial numbers on the windshield.
Police said he uses strong magnets to disable locking systems of steering wheels, heavy iron rods to pry open doors, and a pre-coded Electronic Control Module to bypass the vehicle’s security system. Police said he even made instructional videos on YouTube on stealing cars.
“The cars he stole recently were 2019 models. We are yet to find who he sold the stolen vehicles to,” Yadav said. Police recovered four Brezza cars, and are expected to trace the other vehicles if they track the receiver.
While trying to trace the accused, police made contact with his family and found they disowned him after he took to crime.
He was arrested a few years ago and detained at C R Park police station. Kunal allegedly wrote a letter, saying he was ashamed of auto lifting, and tried to commit suicide in the lock up before he was saved by police. He allegedly went back to stealing after escaping from custody.
On Wednesday, when he was arrested and brought to Anand Vihar police station, officers were curious about his modus operandi. The team asked him to open a locked car as a demonstration. “He opened it in four minutes,” said an officer.