Theft racket at airport busted,three arrestedhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/theft-racket-at-airport-busted-three-arrested/

Theft racket at airport busted,three arrested

THE Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) on Monday arrested a gang of three men at Mumbai airport who have allegedly committed at least seven thefts at airports across the country over the past five years.

THE Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) on Monday arrested a gang of three men at Mumbai airport who have allegedly committed at least seven thefts at airports across the country over the past five years. They always targeted passengers at the check-in-counter,officers said.

The accused,Dwarkesh Daddoguda Kurba (47) of Karnataka,Ushakant Janardan Sonawane (57) of Mumbai and Shankarlal M Bhanushali (59) of Gujarat,were arrested just before they were to board Indigo flight 6E213 to Ahmedabad at 7.40 am. The have allegedly confessed to the thefts and the Airport police station took them into custody. The CISF said the gang has committed robberies at Mumbai,Ahmedabad,Bangalore,Goa,Hyderabad,Jaipur and New Delhi airports.

CISF officials said the trio were under their surveillance for the past five months and first came under the scanner in November when they allegedly stole Rs 70,000 from the baggage of a passenger at the Bangalore airport. They allegedly struck again in December in Bangalore and stole Rs 22,000 in foreign currency from the luggage of another passenger.

“In November they committed the theft in the arrivals section and then went back to Mumbai. We have been watching out for them ever since because they always used the same modus operandi,” said CISF Senior Commandant M. K. Singh.

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Singh said that the gang was based in Mumbai and flew across the country to commit thefts. “When a passenger comes to the check-in counter,he or she drops their luggage on the floor. One of the men would then stand between the passenger and the luggage. The second man would then stand close to the first and block the passenger’s view of his luggage while the third would open the bag and take whatever he found,” said Singh.

The theft would be complete in two minutes. “To anyone watching,it would appear as though a passenger has removed something from his luggage,” added Singh.

On March 13, the trio allegedly stole Rs 1 lakh from the bag of a passenger who was flying from Mumbai to Chandigarh.

“He first thought that the theft had taken place in the Security Hold Area (SHA) where the CISF is posted. But when we reviewed the CCTV footage,we saw that the robbery had taken place at the check-in counter. We obtained pictures and phone numbers of the men and also studied their flying patterns. We have been in touch with Air Intelligence Units and police stations in the cities where they committed the robberies and on Sunday,received information that they would be flying to Ahmedabad on Monday morning,” he said.

Singh added that the three had been arrested in Hyderabad in 2010 and are currently out on bail and that a team of the Hyderabad Police would arrive in Mumbai on Tuesday to interrogate the accused.

“Passengers feel that the airport is a safe environment. At the check-in counter,a passenger is busy with completing formalities and does not expect the person standing behind him in a queue to rob him. They were professional in approach and no one suspected them,” he said.

Watched,nabbed

The accused,Dwarkesh Daddoguda Kurba (47) of Karnataka,Ushakant Janardan Sonawane (57) of Mumbai and Shankarlal M Bhanushali (59) of Gujarat,always targeted passengers at the check-in-counter,CISF officers said the gang has committed robberies at Mumbai,Ahmedabad,Bangalore,Goa,Hyderabad,Jaipur and New Delhi airports CISF officials said the trio were under their surveillance for the past five months and first came under the scanner in November when they allegedly stole Rs 70,000 from the baggage of a passenger at the Bangalore airport On March 13, the trio allegedly stole Rs 1 lakh from the bag of a passenger who was flying from Mumbai to Chandigarh