Pune: If a man pretending to be a cop has asked you to handover your valuables to him on the pretext of a bandobast, it means that you were duped. A gang across the city is operating as fake policemen and looting people of their valuables. The men, dressed in uniform, are asking the residents, especially women wearing jewellery, to take their valuables off and hand it over to them, or else they would be forced to pay a heavy fine instead.
There are also other pretexts on which this gang operates. They claim that a spate of chain snatching incidents have occured in the area, and as a precaution ask women to remove their jewellery. Once these women remove their valuables, the conmen use some hand tricks and get away with their valuables.
Last there had been 72 of such incidents that were reported, while this year, until May 30 alone, 30 Punekars have become victims of the gang.
The residential suburbs of Kothrud, Wanwadi and Nigdi and the upmarket pockets of Hinjewadi and Chatuhshringi are the areas where this gang operates frequently. Crime statistics reveal that the most vulnerable victims of these con-cops are senior citizens and home-makers.
Sixty-five-year-old Chhaya Prakash Mule, a resident of Janaki Ramchandra Niwas in Sadashiv Peth is one of the victims of this gang. On June 3, Mule was duped by a gang of three people dressed up as policemen who robbed her of her gold chain, estimated worth Rs1.50 lakh.
Mule said, “I was going home from a nearby library in Sadashiv Peth. There were three men, out of which one came to me and told me that there is a curfew in the city. The other man asked me to remove my chain, and keep it in a bag or else he would fine me Rs2,000. I immediately kept my ornaments in a bag.
The DCP (crime) Jayant Naikanaware said, “The gang members dress like a cop. They speak like a real policeman, and before duping the citizen, recce their area first. They mostly target elderly women. Most of the incidents take place between 11 am and 4 pm.”
Naikanaware added, “The gang then approaches an agent, who sells the jewellery for more than five per cent of the price in the market. After taking the commission, the agent pays the remaining amount to the gang members.”
The Additional Commissioner of Police (ACP) (Crime) Shahaji Solunke said, “Since a year, the city police has attempted to create awareness by regularly requesting the citizens over loudspeakers to not fall prey to chain snatchers. This is the modus operandi that the gang too is operating on. The crime is committed in a very professional way, and we are investigating more from the people who have been arrested from similar gangs previously.”