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Hitchhiking gang busted

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
By Kunal Chonkar

Like thuggees, they operated at junctions along Expressway in and around Navi Mumbai

Earlier this week, the Navi Mumbai Police managed to bust a gang involved in a series of highway robberies. Sanjay Tole (31), Ambadas Methre (40), Mallya Khaile (33), Irshad Khan (34), Yogesh Rathod (27) and a minor assumed to be 12 years of age, were taken into custody.

Ravindra Kshirsagar, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Turbhe revealed, “The gang of five adults and a minor, would hang around junctions to hitch rides in vehicles along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway near Panvel, Turbhe and Kharghar.”

Acting on a tip-off, a police team led by Kshirsagar laid a trap around Turbhe junction and arrested the gang along with two cellphones, several credit and debit cards, a couple of knives, cash of Rs.2,500 and many PAN cards.

“Few weeks ago, we started getting complaints of robberies from around the Navi Mumbai area. The pattern adopted in each instance was similar and we decided to immediately tackle the situation,” added Kshirsagar.

A police official explained that two members of the gang would ask for a lift along the expressway junctions. When a vehicle stopped, they would introduce themselves as workers or students and would ask for a ride till the Taloja checkpoint. “Somewhere along the journey, they would request the driver to halt saying they needed to relieve themselves. Other members of the gang would be hiding near the spot and would spring up and overpower the driver and other passengers,” said the officer. Threatening the occupants at knife-point, the gang would loot cash, valuables, car accessories and, at times even the vehicle, dumping the passengers in the middle of the highway.

During preliminary investigations, the six arrested members tried to conceal their identities but opened up and confessed to their crimes after strict cross-examination. “We feel that there are more members on the loose as complaints of highway robberies are still on rise around the Khalapur, Rasoayani and Shedung junctions,” informed another police officer.

The police have registered several IPC sections against the arrested gang members.

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