The burglar who made away with jewellery worth ₹20 crore, but got caught within 24 hours
New Delhi: An electrician-cum-technician working for a jewellery showroom in South Delhi’s Kalkaji used his professional skills and supplemented them by watching YouTube videos to break into the same shop to steal 25 kilos of gold and diamond jewellery worth ₹20 crore, the Delhi Police said on Thursday after arresting the suspect and recovering the entire stolen items.
RP Meena, deputy commissioner of police (south-east), said prima facie it appears that the suspect, 25-year-old Sheikh Nur Rahman, operated all alone in a heist that lasted a little over six hours, including over four hours inside the showroom and over 90 minutes that Rahman spent just waiting on the roof of a nearby building.
Though the entire stolen jewellery weighed 25kilos, the DCP said that a lot of it was studded with diamonds because of which the market price of the booty was ₹20 crore. “This is one of the biggest seizures of stolen jewellery in India in the recent years,” the officer said.
Rahman, for the last one year, had been employed at the Kalkaji store of Anjali Jewellers, a Kolkata-based firm which primarily caters to jewellery of Bengali tradition, said the showroom manager Arijit Chakravarty.
“He would come across as any other employee, there was nothing in his appearance or mannerism to suggest he plan and execute such a heist,” said Chakravarty.
But Rahman allegedly had other plans. “In one year of work, he got to know the showroom inside out. And he used his knowledge and skills to plan the heist for three months. He thought he had a foolproof plan,” said Suvashis Choudhary, joint commissioner of police (southern range).
In the last three months, Rahman allegedly studied the layout of the entry and exit points, the position of the guards, the screws that needed to be opened, the CCTV cameras that needed to be disconnected and all other fine details, Choudhary said. “He then invested about ₹50,000 on buying equipment such as hydraulic iron cutters, gas cutters, suitcase, backpack, rope, etc,” said the officer.
Then, Rahman created an alibi for himself by taking a 15-day leave -- beginning January 10 -- in which he would visit his home in Hooghly in West Bengal.
The DCP said Rahman did book a train ticket and he even went home, but he quietly returned to Delhi within a week. But he stayed away from his residential quarter in Govindpuri that was provided by his employer.
Around 9.30pm on Tuesday, he donned a PPE kit to ensure no one would approach him or suspect him on the streets, wore a large face mask, carried a suitcase and the burglary tools in the backpack and reached near the showroom by an auto-rickshaw.
“Since he had done his survey, he reached the terrace of a mostly vacant structure located two buildings away from the four-storey jewellery showroom. He then waited on the terrace until 11pm so that the residents of the next two buildings were in their homes,” the DCP said.
Once all was quiet, he easily scaled the terrace of the next two buildings and reached the roof of the showroom.
He used hydraulic iron cutters to remove the fibre and tin sheets of a small opening in the roof that allowed him access to the generator room on the top floor. He lowered the heavy tools and bags using a rope. Police said Rahman took his time to operate without any noise.
Once he was inside, he used the same cutter to break open an iron grill and an iron shutter to gain entry into the actual showroom which was spread over the ground, first and second floors. He didn’t even need the gas cutter he had brought along.
Rahman did not touch the jewellery on the first and second floors and went directly to the ground floor because he was targeting jewellery of “low volume and high value”, said JCP Choudhary.
“He cut the wires of only one CCTV camera that could have probably given away his identity. He left the other cameras, lest the management check the footage and find it suspicious that so many cameras went off at the same time,” said the officer.
He then stuffed as much jewellery he could carry in his bags and left the same way he had come -- using a rope to haul up the heavy bags from the generator room to the terrace. The police said he hired an auto-rickshaw and reached his friend’s home in Karol Bagh even as he planned to leave for Kolkata on Thursday by train.
The crime was detected around 11am on Wednesday when the showroom was opened.
IN POLICE NET
The police formed 10 teams of about 100 police personnel and began with probing the 35-odd employees of the showroom, other people who visited occasionally for work and local criminals.
The CCTV cameras threw up a lot of footage that suggested the role of an insider. For example, the thief had no trouble in finding a particular CCTV camera in the generator room to change its direction. He also knew exactly where to find drinking water on the third floor. “Most importantly, the thief knew which size screwdriver was needed for opening the screws. All this pointed to someone with particular technical skills,” JCP Choudhary said.
And Rahman was the only employee who the police believed had the skills and knowledge to execute such a heist.
Though Rahman had allegedly prepared an alibi, his absence came across as suspicious to the police. “Our local enquiry revealed that Rahman was seen in Delhi at a time when he was supposed to be in his hometown. He then became the primary suspect,” DCP Meena said.
Thereafter, the police used his call detail records and other technical analysis to catch him from his friend’s home in Karol Bagh and recover all the stolen booty from him -- within 24 hours of him leaving the showroom.
Rahman has been booked for theft in a dwelling house and trespassing. If convicted, he could land in jail for up to seven years.