The local police claimed to have arrested five members of a gang of robbers from Kotli Kalan village here, who were allegedly conspiring to commit robbery and were armed with deadly weapons, but the police did disclose which weapons were seized from them.
But, what has surprised the police is the modus operandi of the gang, which had been active in the surrounding areas of the district for the last 4-5 years. According to station house officer (SHO) Buta Singh, the gang used to steal jewellery items and mortgage them with the Muthoot Finance branch at Maur Mandi.
The police claimed that four of the five men arrested hailed from Kotli Kalan village of Mansa district. "This gang operated in a very unusual fashion as they used to mortgage the stolen jewellery with the finance company as goldsmiths in the city often refused to buy stolen items. After depositing their stolen gold items with the company, they used to pay interest every month on the amount borrowed against the mortgaged jewellery due to which the company officials never doubted them. We have recovered the receipts of the Muthoot Finance," said the SHO.
The police have also recovered sharp-edged weapons from them, which were used in the previous cases of crime along with 15 gm gold items from the branch office of Muthoot Finance.
One of the employees of the company, on the condition of anonymity, said: "We accept any item after verifying the identity proof of the peson seeking advance against jewellery."
However senior superintendent of police (SSP) Bhupinder Singh Khattra criticised the company's policy under which anyone, with an identity proof, can mortgage even stolen items. "We have urged the company to make a database with details of frequent borrowers. Also when a person approaches it, the company should go in for a background verification of the customer."
The branch manager of Muthoot Finance, however, could not be contacted for comments.