The police have arrested four men and one woman from Colombia for allegedly committing a series of house break-ins and thefts, including in the house of former chief secretary Kaushik Mukherjee.
The police recovered watches, pens, foreign currency and albums of the ex-chief secretary’s stamp collection from the accused, who have been identified as Jose Edwardo alias Arevalo Burbano, 40, from Bogota; Gustavo Adolfo alias Jaramillo Giraldo, 47, also from Bogota; Yair Aleberto alias Rozer alias Smith Duarte, 45, from Medellín; Eduard Alexis alias Garcia Peramo, 38, from South Bogota and Kimberly Jhoarya, 30, from San José.
Eduard Alexis and his wife Kimberly Jhoarya came to Mumbai on tourist visas before moving to Bengaluru. The others landed in Kathmandu in Nepal in the last week of May and obtained e-visas to enter India via Delhi. By the first week of June, all five were living in service apartments in Benglauru, said the police, adding that they were acquainted with each other.
“They bought a car on an online classifieds platform and started shopping for electric cutters, welders to melt gold, gloves, crowbars, hammers, knives and other tools to break into houses,” said DCP (South) S. D. Sharanappa.
They purchased pre-activated SIM cards and five mobile phones from a mall. They sourced walkie-talkies from Mexico. The police gathered this evidence after going through CCTV footage from across the city. After a successful spree of break-ins, the gang sold their car for another model.
According to the police, the Colombians would scout posh neighbourhoods with the help of Google maps, and look for bungalows that did not have the lights on or with empty garages. “Kimberly would wear a head scarf and ring the doorbell, knock on the door or pelt stones at the windows to confirm that the house was empty. She would inform others waiting in the car with her walkie-talkie,” said the police.
With one man waiting in the car, and Kimberly keeping watch outside, the other three would break in and grab everything of value.
Two of the accused had been in India earlier. Jose Edwardo and Gustavo Adolfo had entered India via Nepal in 2016. They came to Bengaluru where they allegedly befriended a couple from an African nation. They teamed up to commit a few thefts in the city.
When the police arrested one of the accused, the Colombians fled the country.
In 2010, Edwardo, with the help of an associate, had allegedly committed a theft in a private hotel in the city.
The police have appealed to owners of service apartments, hotels and lodges to obtain a copy of the passport, visa or other travel documents before providing accommodation to foreigners. In the case of Indian nationals, they should seek ID documents like Aadhaar or a PAN card.
Gustavo Adolfo has an MBA from Francisco de Paula Santander University in Colombia
Jose Edwardo and Yair Aleberto had studied up to high school.
Yair had a fake American passport along with his Colombian passport
Eduard Alexis had completed a food course
Kimberly Jhoarya had dropped out of a course on foreign trade
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