Thrissur: A notorious chain-snatcher, who was involved in as many as twenty cases over the past few months, was nabbed by the Chalakudy police on Wednesday.
The habitual criminal, known for his sleight of hand, was identified as Amal, a native of Kuttichira near here.
His prime targets were pedestrian women on deserted streets or lanes. The accused used to mortgage the booty with pawn brokers, collect money and spend it to lead a luxurious life. In a span of three-and-half months, the accused had made about Rs 12 lakh by pledging as many as fourteen robbed gold ornaments, the police said.
Rattled by the spate of chain-snatching incidents, a special police squad, headed by Chalakudy DySP C R Santhosh had stepped up surveillance and started scanning records of habitual chain-snatchers in the district. They identified the bike used by the accused to carry out the crimes on the basis of CCTV footage recovered from different spots.
However, the registration number of the vehicle, which was found fitted with extra accessories, was unrecognisable.
With the help of the Motor Vehicles Department, the police collected registration details of about fifty suspicious bikes of same make and zeroed in on eight of them. However, even as they pored over the details of the shortlisted vehicles, chain-snatching incidents continued unabated.
Thereafter the cops rounded up several habitual offenders who were involved in chain-snatching cases reported in Thrissur and neighbouring districts over the past few years, but investigation confirmed that they were not present in areas under the jurisdiction of the Chalakudy police station at the time of the crimes.
Smart work by police
The investigators painstakingly verified thousands of calls that had gone through the closest mobile towers at the location of the crimes. Call data records revealed that Amal had made several calls to people in the business of moneylending and pawnbroking in the region. The police managed to obtain his photograph and approached the operators of those financial firms. All of them identified him and told the police that as many as six gold chains pledged by him were with them.
The police kept a close watch on his movements and apprehended him the other day based on a tip-off. Initially he feigned innocence and refuted the charge of his involvement in chain-snatching. However, regarding the chains that he pledged with pawn brokers, he could not give a clear answer.
Meagre income, lavish lifestyle
The investigators checked his background and found that he hailed from a modest family of daily wagers. Amal’s father drives an autorickshaw to eke out a living while his brother is a tipper lorry driver. Though Amal has been working as a newspaper agent, obviously that income was not enough to provide for his lavish lifestyle.
After the cops subjected him to rigorous questioning, asking about his meagre income and extravagant spending habits, Amal had no other option but to confess to the charges against him. He admitted to have committed a series of chain-snatching crimes so that he could live a lavish lifestyle. The money he received by pledging the stolen ornaments was used to visit picnic spots outside Kerala along with his friends, Amal told the investigators.
Before being graduated to the ‘greener pastures’ of chain-snatching, Amal used to steal LED bulbs from houses in the neighbourhood. Though the neighbours were certain that he was behind the thefts, they did not approach police due to lack of evidence.
Ultimately, the proverbial long arm of the law caught up with him.
The police recovered the fourteen gold chains pledged by Amal with different lending firms in the district.