The Surat Crime Branch on Sunday busted a gang of mobile phone snatchers, including two minor boys and a 25-year-old man, and seized 57 mobile phones worth Rs 5.93 lakh from them. Police said such gangs rope in minors as they can get away with the crime easily.
The arrested man, Abu Amir Kaskiwala (Memon), a resident of Sopariwala street in Chowk Bazaar area, told police that he used to lend bike and moped on rent to these teenagers who would snatch mobile phones from two-wheeler riders or pedestrians. Police said teenagers, mostly school dropouts, indulge in such crimes to buy costly clothes and shoes. Police are on the lookout for five more teenagers allegedly working in the same gang.
After interrogating Kaskiwala, police caught the minors who said seven of them were part of the gang. They used to take bike and moped from Kaskiwala at Rs 1,000 rent per day and snatch mobile phones from passers-by. He would pay them between Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 for five mobile phones, the minors told police. Police checked the financial status of both the minors and found that they belong to middle class families with no crime record. “They are school dropouts and some of them do odd jobs,” police said.
Sub-inspector TA Gadhvi of Surat Crime Branch said, “When we caught the minors, one of them told me with confidence, ‘I am minor’. He also took out copy of his school leaving certificate. The other boy was also 16 years old. We took statements of both who confessed that they used to snatch mobile phones from different areas in the city and sell it to Kaskiwala. They also gave details of five other minors working for Kaskiwala.”
The duo confessed about their involvement in such snatching activities in different posh areas in the city in the past couple of months, according to police.
The crime branch officials took statements of minors and produced them before the juvenile court. They were sent to the juvenile home from where they were released later. Police said Kaskiwala planned to sell the stolen mobile phones in Mumbai or Delhi. “Of the two minors, one was caught earlier for phone snatching. He used to gift branded clothes to his friends and take them to posh salons for haircuts to lure them into the gang. He would later train them to snatch mobile phones from people while riding a bike and assure them that nothing would happen even if they are caught as they are minors, and that they would be released from the juvenile home in a day or two,” police said.
Usual targets of the gang were pedestrians and two-wheeler riders on deserted stretches of Vesu, Piplod, new VIP road, etc. They used to lift mobile phones from the shirt pockets of two-wheeler riders, police added.