Lucknow police has busted an inter-state gang of automobile thieves and recovered many high-end and premium segment vehicles from them. A Bangkok-based hotelier and a Bhojpuri actor are the gang’s kingpins, police said on Monday.
So far, the gang had stolen more than 2,000 vehicles, police said.
“One of the main accused, Mohammed Rizwan, 50, is a hotelier in Bangkok and he allegedly masterminded the theft of vehicles. Another key member Nasir Khan, 42, was an actor in Bhojpuri movies. He has, ironically, played the roles of a policeman in a few movies,” Lucknow Police Commissioner Sujit Pandey said.
The police has recovered more than 50 high-end cars/SUVs from three locations in the state capital — a parking stand in Hazratganj, a temple in Haridas Kheda in Chinhat, and a Chinhat storage place.
These including a BMW, Mercedes, Toyota Fortuner, Pajero, Toyota Innova, Honda City, Hyundai Elantra, Maruti Brezza, Maruti Swift, Honda Accord, Tata Safari, Mahindra Scorpio and Honda Civic etc. Some recovered vehicles have registration numbers of districts of Odisha and Kashmir where natural calamities took place in the past.
According to the Police Commissioner, the gang stole luxury cars from upscale localities in 18 states and then routed the vehicles to Nepal, Nagaland, Manipur and Assam within 24 hours.
Those arrested are Shyam Jaiswal, a dealer in second-hand four-wheelers, Vinay Talwar, who owns a vehicle modular showroom, and Moinuddin Khan, also dealing in vehicles. Seven gang members are on the run, police said.
Explaining the gang’s modus operandi, officer said that the gang used a well-oiled network to lift and hunt for target vehicles.
“They would purchase totalled cars from insurance companies as per their plan to lift a particular vehicle. The gang would then use the registration number and chassis number of these cars to replace those of stolen cars. These stolen cars — with changed registration and chassis numbers – were then sold to gullible customers. The gang also used to change ECN and identification chip of the stolen cars by grinding work,” Pandey said.
Police said that the gangs tool the stolen vehicles from Lucknow and neighbouring cities to Guwahati on forged vehicle documents and fake number plates. From Guwahati, the vehicles were handed over to people in other northeastern states.
DCP Somen Barma said that the racket was exposed after Chinhat police recovered a car abandoned by its occupants at a checkpost on June 15.
“On checking, we found the car was of 2013 make and in the name of a Kaiserbagh resident. What raised doubts was that it looked similar to a current model though it was shown as of 2013 in records,” said Barma.
The cops got forensic test done, that revealed its real chassis number. The car was stolen from Gomti Nagar in Lucknow on June 5.
The police are now working to expose a nexus between private insurance companies and the arrested accused.