After knocking on more than thousand doors, a motley crew of the Delhi Police, armed with nothing but CDs containing footage of an unsuccessful thief managed to hunt down a 23-year-old who was caught trying to break into an ATM on a candid camera.
Aginder Kumar Mandal, a second-year MBA student who claimed he was merely 'desperate to finance his studies' at a prominent institute in south Delhi, had been just a couple of strikes away from hitting a jackpot at an unguarded Syndicate Bank ATM in south Delhi's Mehrauli before giving up.
"In fact, after visiting the ATM at least five times, he had already managed to break into the manual and electronic lock of the machine with a simple screwdriver on the night of July 13," said a senior police officer who investigated the case.
The matter was reported to the Mehrauli Police Station the morning after Mandal's aborted attempt and triggered a wild goose-chase across 1,000 to 1,200 homes, schools, colleges; not to mention coaching centres located in 'student-friendly' areas such as Saidulajab, Mehrauli, Chhatarpur, Neb Sarai and Maidan Garhi.
Even servant verification forms, police claimed, were scrutinised before a team — deputed to replay three to five hours of recorded footage of Mandal's attempt at what later turned out to be his own college -- hit their own jackpot.
First, it was one of his classmates and then someone from the college's administration who recognised Mandal from the footage provided to police by the bank and, subsequently, he was arrested from his rented accommodation at Chhatarpur Pahari, police said.
"There was something about his gait and mannerism that suggested he was a first-timer and evidently nervous. Finally, despite recorded footage, it was good old traditional criminal profiling which paid off in the case," said Chhaya Sharma, DCP (south), confirming the arrest.