It needed some play-acting on the part of the Crime Branch personnel.
They posed as government officials assigned the task of installing electricity poles in a faraway village of North Lakhimpur in Assam. They stayed there for 15 days gathering information, while pretending to be working to set up poles.
Moti-Ur-Rehman (28), a receiver of stolen cars based there, fell for it. Once police officials found evidence against him, he was arrested.
He spilled the beans and named his accomplices.
On Monday, the police said they have arrested nine people who were involved in around 1000 car theft cases spanning over 12 years. Four of them have Maharashtra Control Of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) cases against themselves. One of them, Ravi alias Bhoop Singh (38), allegedly has 500 auto-lifting cases against him, all done in two years time.
Police said Ravi had devised a way to send all the stolen cars to Assam and Rehman arranged for their sale in Nepal.
Others held are Pawan (25), brother in law of an auto lifter and an expert driver, Hitesh Choudhary (22), a field officer with a private bank, Jagjeet Singh who stole 50 vehicles and posed as a journalist, Vipin (30) with an MCOCA case against him, Amir (23), Akaash Thapa (29) and Om Prakash (35).
The police said that they are going to make 30 more arrests in the case.