Exquisitely designed gold necklaces and bracelets worth over Rs 1 crore, over 200 multi-coloured handbags and purses — sounds like the inventory of a jewellery-cum-bags store, doesn't it?
In fact, this is the loot that the Ghanta Ghar police recovered from the residence of class XII pass Harish Sharma, 27. The police also recovered a pair of black bikes and helmets and property documents showing that Sharma had 15 tenants at his multi-storeyed bungalow at Maliwara.
Sharma was arrested on multiple charges of snatchings on Monday and is reckoned as a 'big catch' by the Ghaziabad police.
"The 27-year-old Sharma," Ghaziabad's Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Raghubir Lal said at a press meet, "committed at least two snatchings daily over the last two years. He mostly targeted, ladies and senior citizens. He alone had a major share in the chain-snatching incidents in the district."
Sharma's modus operandi was simple, said Lal. It focused on evading suspicion and detection. Sharma would always ride black bikes (a CBZ or a Bajaj Pulsar) with black helmets, prowl for potential targets around jewellery shops across Ghaziabad City, Greater Noida and other NCR areas and always acted alone.
"He didn't have any accomplices to keep his criminal activities a secret. He has not admitted to having a gang," said Lal. He posed as journalist and pasted a 'PRESS' sticker on his bikes.
Sharma was nabbed during a routine police check on Sunday night thanks to two alert constables, Anil Kumar and Salek Chand. On frisking Sharma, the constables found a .32 caliber Webley & Scott revolver on his person. This alarmed them and they asked him to produce the gun's license papers, which the former could not. The constables have been rewarded R 15,000 each.
During interrogation, Sharma confessed to the crimes. This led to the police raid at his home and recovery of the "snatched booty worth over R1 crore," said a police official. Sharma is also said to have confessed to having snatched the revolver along with cash worth R50,000 from a jeweller near Holy Child School under Sihani-Gate police station on September 5.
Sharma was neither an amateur in the criminal world nor a stranger to the police: he was on bail after he was arrested by the local police in August 2007, for allegedly snatching 23 mobile phones, cash worth R81,000, four gold chains and a bike, according to Lal. "After Sharma got out on bail, he was not being tracked by the police," admitted Lal.
Sharma has admitted to having committed the snatchings to amass wealth and gift jewellery to his wife. "We are arranging a display of the recovered goods at Ghanta Ghar police station for two days. We have asked the victims to come and verify their robbed valuables," said Lal.