After three robberies in 10 days, locals and stall owners at Aksa beach in Malad decided to take guard the area at night and catch the robbers.
And at 2 am on Friday, they saw four 15-year-olds armed with choppers breaking the lock of a stall.
The locals raised an alarm, and the teenagers panicked.
“Seeing the crowd, three boys jumped across a wall and escaped in the dark. We surrounded the fourth boy and he started running towards the beach,” said Yashwant Thakur, who owns a refreshment stall on the beach.
“We thought that we would catch him but to our surprise the boy jumped into the sea.”
Added the owner of a chat stall, Praful Mhatre: “About 70 of us waded into knee-deep water of the 1 km shore and waited for more than six hours, but the boy was not found.”
The locals and stall owners waited till 8 am, but there was no trace of the boy.
“Either he is an expert swimmer or he has drowned. We called up the fire control and the police, but his body has not yet been found,” said Thakur.
The locals said that they did not jump into the sea to chase the teenager as he was armed. “We were scared and waited for him to resurface,” said Mhatre.
S Masalkar, lifeguard at Aksa beach, said: “The current is so strong that it takes days to recover a body. There is no other route to escape, so it is obvious that the robber has been washed away in the current.”