Glib-tongued robber arrested after three-year run
The suspect was identified as Faridabad resident Chand Mohammad, who would begin each of his heists with a cordial namaste – earning his operation, which also included some jewellers who would sell the stolen items, the moniker ‘namaste gang’, police said.Updated: Oct 27, 2020, 23:53 IST
Police arrested a 35-year-old man on Tuesday for stealing jewellery from elderly pedestrians in neighbourhoods of west and south Delhi, ending the over three-year run of an alleged street robber who would sweet-talk his targets into handing over their precious necklaces, earrings and bangles.
The suspect was identified as Faridabad resident Chand Mohammad, who would begin each of his heists with a cordial namaste – earning his operation, which also included some jewellers who would sell the stolen items, the moniker ‘namaste gang’, police said.
“Mohammad is the kingpin of the infamous namaste gang. He has duped over 100 senior citizens in Delhi-NCR since 2017. A majority of the cases are registered in nearly a dozen police stations in west and south Delhi. A total of 23 such cases have been solved with his arrest. Our teams are interrogating him to connect his involvement in the remaining cases,” said deputy commissioner of police (south), Atul Kumar Thakur.
According to police, while the specific lines he used would vary from target to target, Mohammad’s basic strategy was the same: pretend to be the friendly neighbourhood acquaintance. “Mohammad would stop an elderly woman with a namaste, touch her feet and seek blessings. He would then pretend to be a family friend, and ask to look at any item of jewellery she would be wearing in detail,” Thakur said.
Always wearing a helmet and astride his scooter, Mohammad would cajole his targets into removing the pieces of jewellery and handing it to them so that he could look closely to get it replicated for his wife. “Once he had the jewellery in his hand, he would speed away,” the DCP added.
“On many occasions, he would resort to niceties, asking how his target’s family was in order to make the guise convincing. At times he would tell them that he was meeting them because their relative suggested he look at their ornaments to figure out what he must get made,” Thakur said, adding that the suspect was particularly convincing in his con.
The jewellery would then make its way to one of several jeweller acquaintances. Police said they arrested one of them, 47-year-old Dinesh Kumar, also a resident of Faridabad. Mohammad has sold stolen jewellery worth nearly ₹60 lakh to various jewellers in Delhi-NCR in the last three years, Thakur added.
Mohammad’s arrest came following an investigation into a cheating complaint filed by an elderly woman at the Maidan Garhi police station on October 17. Her pair of gold rings was taken away by a suspect who used a similar modus operandi. During investigation, police learned similar incidents happed in several south Delhi areas, such as Neb Sarai, Sangam Vihar, Govindpuri, Ambedkar Nagar and Malviya Nagar.
“We checked CCTV footage of the areas where the crimes occurred. The suspect used a dark blue scooter without a number plate. We also came across some hue-and-cry notices in west Delhi, with images of the same scooter and the suspect wearing a helmet. Through the notice, the people were alerted about the suspect’s modus operandi and were asked not to fall prey to his tricks,” said an investigator, who did not want to be named.
Several teams fanned out, and finally found the scooter parked near Badi mosque in Chhatarpur village area on Tuesday. “A trap was laid and the suspect was caught when he came to take the vehicle,” the police said.