Gurugram cops finally catch up with lift-and-loot gang

After 42 days of rigorous technical and human surveillance, Delhi police Monday arrested a suspected member of a cabbie gang which, as per the confession of the arrested member, was involved in 30 cases of lift-and-loot, including three in New Delhi, in the last two months.

Police said the 28-year-old suspect, Arshad Khan, who was arrested from Raipur village in Sohna, has allegedly confessed to having looted Rs 10 lakh cash, jewellery and other valuables.

His three accomplices have been identified as gang leader Shokeen, Zubeer and Mustakeem, all of whom are history-sheeters and hail from Nuh, police said Thursday, adding that they are absconding. Delhi and Gurugram police have formed teams and are using technical surveillance to arrest the others.

According to police, Khan was arrested when he was on his way to Hathin in Palwal, along with three boys from his village who were to appear for class 10 exam. Khan stopped his car — a Maruti Ertiga MUV with a commercial number plate — outside a meat shop when a team from Vasant Kunj (south) police intercepted the group and arrested Khan.

Khan was arrested as police, based on information received from their informants, had laid a trap on the road leading to his village, police said, adding that weapon(s) used in the crimes were yet to be recovered.

According to police, all members of the gang have bought cars on loan and are attached with cab aggregators. Police added that all gang members are history-sheeters, involved in carjacking, thefts and lift-and-loot. All members, barring Khan who was arrested for the first time, were out on bail.

“They all are friends. They all bought cars on loan, and Shokeen, the gang leader, formed this gang in January,” Sandeep Kumar Suthar, investigating officer from Vasant Kunj police station (south), Delhi, said.

Their modus operandi was to offer victims shared rides at night and then assault and rob them, police said, adding that each time they used a different cab to evade arrest. They used to force victims to reveal their ATM passwords at gunpoint or knifepoint and withdraw money, apart from stealing their mobile phones and other valuables.

They never took their laptops, fearing arrest. “They were told by other gang members that laptops have chips which tracks user location,” Arya said. Each member of the gang had a specific role to play, police said.

“Arshad was the driver and used to withdraw money from ATM booths using the victim’s debit and credit cards. Shokeen and Zubeer used to take the passengers at gunpoint/knifepoint and Mustakeem used to beat them up if they did not reveal the passwords,” Arya said.

“The gang had zeroed in on five locations on a 20-km stretch of the Delhi-Gurgaon e-way to look for targets. They mostly picked up victims from Mahipalpur crossing, Iffco Chowk , Shankar Chowk, Rajiv Chowk and Sector 18,” Vasant Kunj station house officer Sanjeev Kumar said.

Delhi police said that since January, they had received at least 20 complaints of such cases, and one such case was reported from Delhi. Khan allegedly confessed to having been involved in 30 incidents, including three in Delhi’s Mahipalpur, police said, adding that these are the cases which haven’t been reported.

However, the case that led Delhi Police to trace Khan was filed on January 24. Victim Naresh Kumarawat had lodged a complaint stating that on January 14, around 7.30pm when he was waiting at Mahipalpur Chowk at NH-48 for a ride to reach his office in Gurugram, a taxi stopped and offered him a shared ride, said deputy commissioner of police (south west district) Devender Arya.

“He boarded the cab in which three people, including the driver, were seated. When they reached Ambience Mall in Gurugram, they robbed his belongings, including his mobile phone and purse with an ATM card and cash ₹1,500. They assaulted him and took him to Sohna. Here, they threatened him and forced him to reveal his ATM PIN. They withdrew Rs 1.5 lakh from his account from three different ATMs. He was let go at an isolated place near KMP Expressway,” DCP Arya said.

Arya said that since the incident was alarming, the district police pressed all its resources into action. “The local police team, led by inspector Sanjeev Kumar, station house officer of Vasant Kunj, started rigorous technical exercise and reconstructed the sequence of events right from the start until the victim was let go by the assailants. While retracing the happenings of January 14, the team picked up several vital clues, both technical and human. Accordingly, technical surveillance was mounted and relevant human resources were activated,” he said.

The Delhi police are now collecting details of cases lodged, and are contacting victims to identify the suspect in custody. With this arrest, three lift-and-loot gangs have been busted since December last year. According to Gurugram Police, there are two more gangs from Nuh operating on the expressway.

“We have strong leads and the other gangs will also be busted. Crime teams are deployed at suspected locations,” assistant commissioner of police (crime) Shamsher Singh maintained.

First Published:
Mar 15, 2019 10:23 IST

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