A man who allegedly went around pretending to be a VIP was arrested on Monday for stealing national athlete Ashwini Nachappa’s debit cards on December 3. The Jayanagar police, who arrested Ravi (44), said they have recovered Rs 1.97 lakh of Ashwini’s money from him. Ravi reportedly told them he had spent Rs 35,000 of the Rs 2.4 lakh he had stolen from her accounts on horse racing in Bangalore and Mysore.
A resident of Yaraganahalli in Mysore, Ravi had worked for some time as a bus ticket agent. After developing an addiction to lottery and horse racing, he lost all his money. His addiction cost him his job, too.
Since 2008, police say, he would dress up like an affluent man and attend public events. He would choose the events after scouring the engagements columns in the dailies. Wedding halls were among his favourite haunts. He would walk up to the mantaps and stash away gifts, cash, wallets and ATM cards. Police said he had turned stealing into an art, and taken it up full-time after he felt he had gained enough experience.
Ravi frequented posh wedding and party halls in Girinagar, High Grounds, Malleswaram, Jayanagar, near Cubbon Park and S J Park besides Nazarabad in Mysore. He would also go to Town Hall, Ravindra Kalakshetra, Chitrakala Parishat, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Seva Sadana (Malleswaram) and pull off his act as a distinguished guest.
At many places, he would also carry a newspaper and claim to be a journalist. He preferred the front row, from where he would scan the crowd for gullible men and women.
In June this year, he allegedly pocketed envelopes containing Rs 1.50 lakh of gift money at a wedding mantap inside Poornima Convention Hall, Jayanagar. He used the cash to live it up and bet on horses.
On December 3, Ashwini Nachappa was the chief guest at a sports meet at the Rani Channamma Stadium in II Block, Jayanagar. Waiting for an opportunity, Ravi allegedly found one when she left her purse on a chair and walked up to the stage to hoist a flag.
He sneaked out with her purse and found many ATM cards inside.
He swiped them to withdraw Rs 2.40 lakh. Ashwini had written the pin numbers behind the cards.
City Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar has announced a cash reward for sub-inspector P N Eshwari and her team for cracking the case.