The Chandigarh police have arrested two junk dealers who had allegedly stolen 15 heritage chairs and a table designed by Le Corbusier from the storeroom of the Government College of Arts, Sector 10, on the intervening night of January 18 and 19. The police have recovered 10 chairs from their possession. The vehicle used in the crime — Tata Ace — five chairs and the table are yet to be recovered.
The accused have been identified as 26-year-old Sunil Kumar, a resident of Sector 25 and 38-year-old Faquir Chand of Kansal. The police are yet to arrest two women, identified as Sweety and Shakila of Sector 25, and Anil and Rajesh, who assisted the accused in the crime. The police said Faquir masterminded the theft as he used to participate in furniture auctions in Punjab and Haryana.
The police said Sweety and Shakila, both rag pickers, used to recce the area before committed the theft and then used to call other gang members to lift the booty. Both Sunil and Faquir are school dropouts and are working as junk dealers. Faquir Chand also buys all types of furniture from auctions.
During the preliminary investigation, the accused said they had bought these heritage furniture from Sweety and Shakila both residents of Sector-25 Chandigarh who are yet to be arrested in this case.
HOW THEY PLANNED THE THEFT
UT senior superintendent of police (SSP) Sukhchain Singh Gill said Sweety and Shakila conducted a recce of the storeroom of the Government College of Art where the furniture was kept. In the wee hours of January 18, they broke the locks of the storeroom and called Sunil, who asked Sunil to come with his Tata Act to take away the heritage furniture. Anil also took along his friend Rajesh with him to the spot and loaded the furniture in his van. The accused then contacted Faquir and kept five chairs at his shop in Sector 25. Sunil kept five chairs with him and the remaining chairs and the table were taken away by Sweety and Shakila, added the SSP.
HOW CASE WAS CRACKED
The SSP said a special investigation team was constituted and dump data of mobile phones of the spot was scrutinised. During scrutiny, around 150 suspected mobile numbers were shortlisted. Meanwhile, the closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera footage from Matka Chowk, 16/17 light point, press light point and TPT light point were also scrutinised. The police had an information that a white-coloured Tata Ace was also spotted near the place. During verification of call details, it was revealed that Sunil had called Anil, owner of Tata Ace, from the spot. The police arrested him and Faquir and recovered 10 stolen chairs from their possession.
THE MUMBAI LINK
Faquir told the police that whenever he participated in auctions, there were a number queries about the heritage furniture. He also used to get calls from Mumbai about the availability of heritage furniture. The police said they were verifying the call details to trace the Mumbai link in the smuggling of heritage furniture.