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How cellphones stolen from Mumbai make their way to Bangladesh

In August first week, the crime branch had arrested 10 people and found 135 stolen cellphones worth Rs 22 lakh. Based on their statement, three more were arrested, with the latest being a villager who stays in Tripura, close to the border.

The stolen phones one is interested in are selected and packed in boxes meant for Bangladesh. (Representational/File)

An arrest made by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch last month in connection to a cellphone theft racket, which has links to Bangladesh, has shed light on how city-based courier companies and villagers along the Indo-Bangladesh border are helping in smuggling stolen cellphones to the neighbouring country.

In August first week, the crime branch had arrested 10 people and found 135 stolen cellphones worth Rs 22 lakh. Based on their statement, three more were arrested, with the latest being a villager who stays in Tripura, close to the border. The police said the man spilled the beans on how stolen cellphones are smuggled into Bangladesh. An officer said they have found that once cellphones are stolen from Mumbai, their photographs and details are uploaded on a WhatsApp group that has people from Bangladesh and at times, Nepal. The stolen phones one is interested in are selected and packed in boxes meant for Bangladesh.

“The boxes are then sent to a south Mumbai-based courier company, which has an Agartala, Tripura, address. The accused would collect the order in Agartala and pass it through the porous Indo-Bangladesh border, which is covered with jungles,” the officer said. He added that three persons have been identified from Bangladesh, whose job is to collect these stolen phones and sell them in their country.

“The criminals sell the cellphones outside India so that they do not need to spend money on erasing the IMEI number of cellphones, based on which they can be traced by the police. Once the phone goes to another country, the IMEI number does not have much use for law enforcement agencies,” the officer said.

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He added that with the recent police crackdown on those providing illegal services of erasing IMEI numbers, criminals prefer to send cellphones across the border.

The officer said that so far, they have recovered stolen cellphones worth a crore. “While we have identified three Bangladeshi nationals as part of the module, we will need to gather enough evidence to give to the Bangladeshi authorities so that they can take some action against these persons. We are taking legal opinion on how we can proceed against these persons.”

First published on: 18-09-2022 at 00:27 IST
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