Saturday, June 24, 2017

Cops bust gang of e-way robbers, arrest 7


PUNE: The Talegaon-Dabhade police arrested seven members of a gang of highway robbers early on Thursday following a Bollywood movie-like hot chase on the Pune-Mumbai expressway.

Acting on the near-perfect description of robbers given by a victim, an Army officer, the police pressed into service a crane, an ambulance and even a car to nab the robbers. They also used the cellphones of the robbers to keep a keep track of their whereabouts. The gang had targeted the Army officer, based in Pune, of Rs 5,000 cash, a gold chain and a watch, collectively worth about Rs 50,000, near Urse toll plaza on the expressway around 2 am on Thursday. The officer, who was returning from Lonavla, had stopped his vehicle along the expressway as he was feeling drowsy.

Investigations by the police have revealed that the same gang had robbed a Navi Mumbai-based family of their valuables worth Rs 2.5 lakh by threatening to kill an infant travelling with them on June 13. The arrested have been identified as Pradip Mandlik (22), his brother Balkrishna (25) Avinash Khandagale (22), Kailas Chandane (23), Santosh Ghune (23), Sandip Bhalerao (27), Sachin Kamble (20) from Nevasa taluka in Ahmednagar district. They have cases of robberies, thefts, possession of illegal firearms registered against them.

The police have recovered two cars and sharp weapons used by the gang for committing the robberies. The suspects were produced before the Vadgaon Maval court on Friday and have been remanded in police custody till June 29, Mugutrao Patil, inspector of the Talegaon-Dabhade police.

Inspector Mugutrao Patil said the Army officer, his wife and two small children had gone to Lonavla on Wednesday night. When they were returning to Pune in the early hours of Thursday, the officer took a halt along the e-way near Urse toll plaza as he was feeling drowsy. While he was splashing water on his face, five men brandishing sharp weapons approached him," Patil said, adding that the suspects threatened him of dire consequences and asked him to hand over cash and valuables he possessed to them.

"The officer did not resist the suspects since they all were armed. In all, the suspects robbed him of valuables worth Rs 50,000 and fled," the officer said adding that soon after the victim alerted a policeman at the toll plaza. "The officer gave the detailed description of the suspects to the policeman before driving away," Patil said.

After getting an alert from the policeman, inspector Patil and sub-inspector Dnyaneshwar Bajgire launched a search operation to nab the suspects. Mugutrao Patil, inspector of the Talegaon-Dabhade police said the police team investigating the case noticed few men standing near a car along the expressway near Urse village.

As soon as they saw the policemen, the suspects jumped into the car and tried to drive away. "However, one of them failed to get inside the car. He ran towards a hillock along the expressway. The police team searched for him on the hillock for about half-an-hour. When they could not trace him, the team pretended to call off the search operation and left the spot," Patil said. Thereafter, Patil sent his team to the same spot in a crane belonging to one Ideal Road Builders. "After some time, the police noticed one person standing along the expressway. He was immediately taken in custody as his description matched with that given by the Army officer," Patil said.

He said during the probe, the suspect admitted his involvement in the robbery. Meanwhile, he started receiving calls on his cellphone by his accomplices. They were asking him to come to a spot near Talegaon," Patil said.

Patil said he sent the suspect with the police team in an ambulance. "Three suspects were waiting for him in a car. They never imagined that the police would come in an ambulance. We took them into custody along with the car," Patil said.

The kingpin of the gang, Pradip Mandlik, too was calling on his accomplices' cellphones. "We came to know that Mandlik was not able to get in the car and ran away from the spot. While on the run, he had jumped off a bridge and was hiding under the bridge as both of his legs got fractured. We rushed to the spot and took him into custody too," Patil said.

He said two more suspects were still near Talegaon and were waiting for others. "After contacting them through one of the arrested accomplices, we rushed to the spot. This time, we used the suspects's car to reach the spot and arrested them," Patil said.


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