They would crash weddings, befriend relatives, stay with them throughout the celebrations pretending to help them with the arrangements and escape with all the jewellery and cash from the mandap.
The Delhi Police arrested five members of the alleged gang that targeted only weddings from Madhya Pradesh. They have also apprehended a juvenile appointed by the gang to move around and get acquainted with the relatives and gain their trust.
This 16-year-old boy, the police said, was “bought” by the gang for R 2 lakh on ‘contractual bondage’ from his mother.
According to the police, the men — Gokul Prasad, 30; Sawant Sisodiya,19; Lakhan Sisodiya, 27; Abhishek Sisodiya, 25; and Vikas Sisodiya, 25 — have allegedly committed over 100 thefts from wedding venues in Delhi, NCR towns, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh. With the arrest, the police have solved 15 cases of theft.
The matter came to the notice of the police after several cases of theft of valuables from banquet halls and farmhouses hosting wedding events were reported. “In some cases, the CCTV footage provided glimpses of the suspects. Since these complaints were being received regularly from posh areas of south Delhi, a special team was tasked to track suspected persons,” DCP South, Ishwar Singh said.
The police team analysed footage and deployed sources at banquet halls, farmhouses to gather intelligence about the movement of the suspects.
“It was found that in all cases, a minor was seen committing the theft while his associates, took all precautions and made arrangements on how to safely escape,” Singh said.
It was also revealed that the crime was committed after the gang invested considerable time at the venues. “The thieves were not in a hurry. They did all the required homework before entering the venue. They mingled with the crowd and gradually, gained proximity with the families involved in the marriage. The juvenile would sit next to the bride or the groom during late night rituals,” Singh said.
He added, “As the family used to get emotional about the bride leaving, in one clean sweep, the juvenile would target purses, bags that had cash and gifts and vanish from the scene,” he added.
During questioning the gang disclosed that while stolen vehicles were used as getaway vehicles, a registered car shadowed them in case they were caught. The Maruti Swift with all necessary documents was provided to the gang members by a syndicate senior of Rajgarh, MP. The police also recovered a pistol made in Czech Republic along with seven live cartridges.
“During questioning we also found that the juvenile was hired by the gang on a ‘contract of bondage’ whereby his mother was paid a sum of Rs 2 lakh. An ‘iqrarnama’ to this effect was also executed between the syndicate and the boy’s mother. This illegal and inhuman contract has also been recovered from the mother. Legal opinion is being sought for initiating appropriate action in this matter separately,” Singh said.
Police also found out that the gang had kept some staff of reputed banquet halls, farmhouses on their informal payroll who used to pass on information to them about the event schedules and the profiles of the hosts and the guests who were to attend marriage ceremonies at those venues.