A pick-up truck laden with three tonnes of red sanders, parked in front of the Vengal police station in Tiruvallur district went missing in the wee hours of Friday.
The vehicle was later traced and 60 per cent of the missing logs seized from another lorry, the police said.
Sources said the lorry was seized last month from an onion godown in Vanianchatram near Thamaraipakkam, based on a tip-off. A team of officials had raided the godown and seized three tonnes of red sanders, a lorry, a mini lorry, a pickup auto, three cars, and two motorcycles. Seven persons, including the godown owner, were arrested and remanded in judicial custody. The lorry was parked before the Vengal police station. On Friday, at 3.45 am, when the night shift personnel attached to the police station came out for a cup of tea, they found the lorry missing.
They immediately alerted all the check-posts and the district police headquarters about the incident.
The empty lorry was later found abandoned off the road near Vadamadurai. The smugglers had apparently transferred its consignment to other cargo vehicles.
The vehicle was then brought back to Vengal police station.
A team led by Uthukottai DSP M Kumaravel was called in to track the missing logs.
The team intercepted another lorry laden with red sanders near Sholavaram and the logs were found to be matching with those stolen from the police station. The driver abandoned the vehicle and fled.
The lorry, carrying about 60 per cent of the missing logs, was confiscated and was taken to Vengal police station.
“We have identified the smugglers who were part of the operation and we will be able to trace the remaining cargo within a day or two,” a senior police official said.
The smugglers had reportedly stolen a bike belonging to one Arun of Vadamadurai on Thursday night and used it to reach the Vengal police station.
However, the smugglers abandoned the bike near the police station. Police said that the bike would be returned to its owner after documents were verified.