As many as 32 gangs of burglars from the Indo-Nepal border area of Bihar are operating in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. According to the police, these gangs steal gadgets like laptops, mobile phones, i-pads, wrist watches from various stores and transport them to the neighbouring country.
About a month ago, one of these gangs looted mobile phones worth Rs37 lakh from three stores in Navi Mumbai and fled the city. The Panvel police had sent a team of its officers to trace that gang. However, the team returned home unsuccessful as the culprits escaped to Veergnag in Nepal crossing the porous border.
"Given the massive demand of electronic gadgets in Nepal, these gangs are targetting big stores of electronic gadgets here," said Ajit Shinde, assistant police inspector from Panvel police station, who led the team to trace the gang.
"Their modus operandi is to come to Mumbai and visit these stores as customers. They also buy one or two pieces of gadgets to win the confindence of salesmen. While visiting the stores, they put a small magnetic pin in the keyholes of the main entrance. Because of this pin the shutters don't get locked porperly. The shop owners, however, remain unaware of it. The gangs then come at night and loot the stores. They looted two mobile phone stores in Panvel and another one in Koparkhairane. They also looted wrist watched worth Rs25 lakh from a store in Bandra before that," Shinde said.
All these gangs are being monitored by a kingpin from an area named Raxaul at the border. This is the same area where Indian Mujahideen's co-founder Yasin Bhatkal was arrested in August last year.
"The chief of the gangs visited Panvel last month and he was captured in the footage of a CCTV camera installed in one of the stores. We suspect the gang was alerted by some local villagers and they fled the spot before we reached. We have now deployed some private detectives to get hold those culprits," another police officer said.
According to former police commissioner of Navi Mumbai AK Sharma, goods worth Rs50,18,75,677 were stolen in burglaries and robberies that took place in the city last year. The police have recovered only 51% of the stolen goods in 2013.
Police teams from across the country keep visiting Raxaul searching for criminals. But Raxaul is considered a dangerous place even for the police. While policemen could be attacked by the criminals if they get a chance, they could even be arrested by Nepal Police if they cross the border by mistake. "Once we cross the border, we are no longer considered policemen and the Nepal police may arrest us for carrying weapons. A team from Mumbai Police was arrested by the Nepal Police a few years ago and the entire team had to stay in jail for almost two months," Shinde said. "It's is difficult to get hold of the culprits in that area. Even if we travel by flight, it takes around 10 hours to reach there. Therefore, criminals also get enough time to run away to Nepal crossing the border," he added.