A serial robber, whose modus operandi was to throw chilli powder on his victim’s eyes before allegedly fleeing with their bags, was caught by watching him virtually on Close Circuit Television Camera (CCTV) monitors. This, according to the Railway Protection Force, is is the first arrest made purely on the basis of footage from CCTV Cameras across railway platforms.
Initially, the cameras caught the shadows of a person dressed in a T-shirt and trousers, who was a regular on platform no.2 at Marine Lines station. In one crucial bit of footage, police were able to trace back his footsteps and bunch images which showed him sneak in a small pouch from a rag-picker stationed near the ladies compartment of a suburban bound train. Seconds later, he is seen boarding the ladies compartment. The railway police soon launched a virtual search for him, scanning all the footage available across 30 days days and between Mumbai Central and Churchgate platforms. Since December 21 last year, when a woman complained of being attacked by a man with chilli powder inside a train, the police were on the vigil, along with many other complaints they had got with similar modus operandi. On January 1, 2015 — the police finally after stitching together footage over a period of time were able to track the movements of the suspect, now identified as Ashish Vijay Sahu.
On that December day, a 17-year-old a resident of Colaba was travelling in the second ladies second-class compartment of the Churchgate-bound train. At 7.35 pm, an unidentified person boarded the coach and after throwing chilli powder on her face, snatched her purse and cellphone and fled in a moving train at
Based on her complaint, an FIR was launched with Government Railway Police (GRP) and the RPF also lodged a case under Railway Act, against an unidentified person. A police team was formed and all records of CCTV cameras between Mumbai central and Churchgate were checked.
Anand Vijay Jha, Senior Divisional Security commissioner (Mumbai Division), Western railway, “From CCTV footage, it was found that this person may be the actual culprit and was possibly a resident of Marine Lines area. So, from Dadar to Churchgate and Wadala to Mumbai central, police stations were informed.”
The details of the person were given and a close tab was kept on the CCTV cameras in the next few days. He was caught at Bhindi Bazar Grant Road station, Marine Lines, on January 1, 2015. He lived on a footpath in Mohammed Ali Road area.”
“Sahu has admitted to the crime,” said Jha. He confessed to seven such cases of chain and cellphone-snatching, added Jha.
On January 2, 2015, he was produced before the railway court by RPF and sentenced to 26 days’ imprisonment, apart from a Rs 700 penalty. But as the case of loot was registered under IPC, GRP sought his custody.