The RAK Marg police arrested a 42-year-old man for allegedly stealing cash and valuables from mosques in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane districts. The police said the accused, who is a history sheeter, had been lifting donation boxes and other valuables from mosques since 1999.
Police said the arrested person was identified as Hussain Asif Sajid Hussain Sayyed. He stays in Kalyan along with his mother.
The RAK Marg police revealed that they started looking out for him after two cases of thefts were reported in mosques in Sewri. The cases were registered in May.
An officer said, “On the direction of senior police officers, following a complaint from the mosque authorities, we started our investigation by scrutinising the CCTV footage of that area. After scanning the footage of neighbouring areas as well, we zeroed in on a suspect.”
The police said the screenshots of the CCTV footage was shared with the complainant and after the mosque officials confirmed, they got a hard copy of his image and circulated it among their informers.
While the police were trying to trace him, an assistant police inspector, Annasaheb Gadekar, received information in the wee hours on Wednesday that a third attempt was made to steal from a mosque near the National Market in Sewri.
“We were further informed that the suspect had been caught red handed while stealing a donation box and mobile,” Gadekar said, adding,
“We recovered the stolen valuables from him and a bike was also found in his possession. It was seized.”
The police took the suspect to the police station where he confessed to stealing. “He confessed to the thefts that took place inside mosques in May,” said another officer, adding, “Sayyed claimed as he is a Muslim, he got easy access to mosques and under the pretext of praying, he would enter the mosques and as and when he got the opportunity, he would lift donation boxes and other valuables from there and flee.”
The police said he was earlier arrested in 2000 and also in 2019 for committing similar offences.
The suspect, in his early days, went to a madrasa to study and work in mosques at Kalyan during which he may have got the idea of stealing at mosques, the sleuths said, adding that he subsequently adopted the modus operandi.
“He told us that since he is not qualified to land a job, he got into crime. He said he found this method of stealing from mosques easier due to which he continued with it,” an officer said.
The RAK Marg police informed that Sayyed is also wanted for committing thefts in mosques at Chembur, Dharavi, Vikhroli, Ghatkopar, Panvel, Khopoli and Vartak Nagar police station area in Thane.
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