Lalitha Jewellery heist: Mastermind S Murugan surrenders in Bengaluru
Nine days after the Lalitha Jewellery store heist in Tamil Nadu’s Trichy, prime accused S Murugan (45), surrendered before a civil court in Bengaluru’s Mayo Hall Court Unit on Friday. He has been remanded to 14 days custody.
The case pertains to the October 2 heist at the jewellery store, which was captured on CCTV cameras that showed a masked duo looting jewels worth Rs 13 crore.
P Harishekaran, Inspector General of Police – Karnataka State Reserve Police, who was part of the Bengaluru police team that had arrested the group in 2015, said he was in close touch with the Tamil Nadu police.
“We were about to pick him up in a day or two. It was because of this pressure that he chose to surrender,” Harishekaran said.
The Tamil Nadu police, which had formed seven teams to crack the case, had sought the help of their Karnataka counterparts to nab Murugan. The TN police had already arrested E Manikandan, P Kanagavalli and Murali. Kanagavalli’s son P Suresh (28) surrendered on Thursday.
Murugan was wanted in many cases in Bengaluru and had been arrested in 2015 by the police. Between 2010 and 2015, there were around 80 cases registered against him in Bengaluru and three cases in Cyberabad police station at the time.
Harishekaran said the he had formed a special team in 2014 to crack similar cases in which the Murugan-led gang was involved. The gang was made up of family members and so was a tight-knit unit. “When they entered Bengaluru, they began targeting large houses and jewellery stores,” he said.
However, the gang seems to have benefited from a lapse in communication between different states police organisations. “We coordinated with the other states and by going through the case files of similar heists we were able to identify the gang,” he said.
The police official said that Murugan and others like him were just the tip of the iceberg. “Those who receive the stolen property are deadlier than these gangs, because they ensure constant demand for such jewellery,” he said.
Harishekaran said that though the police had recovered Rs 5 crore worth of property in 2015, that appeared to have been futile. “We spend a lot more money in tracking these gangs than those who receive the stolen goods and deal in them,” he said.
He said that a larger change in laws dealing with those who receive stolen property was the way forward. At present, such persons are charged under Section 411 of the Indian Penal Code, which carries a maximum jail term of three years.