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After heists at two hotels, Jaipur cops hunt for wedding thief at work for over a decade

According to the police, the prime suspect in the case is Jayesh Ravji Sejpal, a man who has several previous cases registered against him of similar nature for over a decade now. 

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Jaipur |
November 30, 2021 4:38:17 pm
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Two similar high-profile thefts in a week, jewellery worth crores stolen, and a suspect who has a history of targeting weddings  — the Jaipur police are on the trail of a thief who had booked rooms in two hotels, including at a prominent five star hotel in Jaipur, impersonating as a wedding guest at both.

According to the police, the prime suspect in the case is Jayesh Ravji Sejpal, a man who has several previous cases registered against him of similar nature for over a decade now.

“He (Sejpal) was released from a jail in Mumbai around four months ago and was last arrested at the Colaba police station. Sejpal targets weddings and steals valuables from hotels. Around 13 cases have been registered against him in the past, in places such as Maharashtra, Chennai and Hyderabad. We are close to solving the case,” said Ajay Pal Lamba, additional commissioner of police, Jaipur.

On what led the police to suspect Sejpal, Lamba said, were two thefts of similar nature at two hotels in Udaipur and Jaipur.

According to the FIRs, the theft in Udaipur took place on November 20 while the one in Jaipur happened at Hotel Clarks Amer, a five-star hotel, on November 25.

While the suspect decamped with a pair of diamond earrings, gold jewellery and Rs 50,000 cash in the Udaipur incident, the items stolen from Hotel Clarks Amer are worth over Rs 2 crore, including gold and diamond jewellery and Rs 95,000 cash, the FIRs mention. In both the incidents, the victims were those who had come to the cities to participate in weddings and were staying at the hotels with other guests.

SHO, Jawahar Circle police station, Radha Raman Gupta, Jaipur, said, “The suspect managed to get inside Hotel Clarks Amer in Jaipur and was roaming around, mingling with the guests who had come for the wedding. When the group left for an event in the wedding, the suspect identified himself as Rahul Banthia, one of the guests who had come for the wedding, and told the hotel staff that the keys to his room were taken by his wife and requested them for help. The staff opened the room for him.”

After entering the room, a little while later, the suspect once again called the hotel staff on the intercom and said he had forgotten the combination of the digital safe inside the room.

“Without checking the man’s identity, the hotel staff opened the safe. We got to know from the CCTV footage that he knocked each room to check whether the guests had left. There are over 250 CCTV cameras in the hotel but none of them could prevent the theft. From his past criminal records, it appears that the suspect has been carrying out such heists for over a decade now,” Gupta said.

While in both the incidents the victims said they suspected the hotel staff, the police have so far maintained there is no evidence behind the allegations. However, they said there was gross negligence on the part of the staff at both the hotels.

Meanwhile, the real Rahul Banthia, while talking to The Indian Express, said, “This is sheer negligence on the part of the hotel. How can they open the room for a third person without verifying his identity and then once again open the safe containing valuables without checking his identity card? When I came back and tried to open the safe to keep the jewellery, I found out it was not opening and then I got to know what happened.”

Banthia, a resident of Panvel in Maharashtra, said around 100 guests were staying at the hotel for the wedding.

In a statement, senior chief security officer of Hotel Clarks Amer S R Sharma said, “In view of the theft which took place at Hotel Clarks Amer, the police are investigating. No employee of the hotel is involved in the crime. The hotel authorities are fully cooperating with the police. In the CCTV footage, which has been handed over to the police, the culprit can be seen.”

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