CHENNAI: In a prize catch, police have arrested from Andhra Pradesh the kingpin of a pickpocket gang that used to operate in MTC buses in the city. Around 46 sovereigns were recovered from the three-member gang, which included the kingpin and two women who were arrested earlier.
Police picked up the women, who were involved in over 15 cases in Vadapalani, Taramani and Virugambakkam, on suspicion a week ago. During interrogation, the duo reportedly confessed to have been acting at the behest of one Balaji, who was subsequently arrested from his hideout in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday night.
The women, identified as Kavya, (28) and Meenakshi aka Vasanthi, (25) hailing from Chithoor, used to visit the city in a pattern that was linked to the exhaustion of the previous loot. Sources said the duo, on an earlier occasion, managed to rent a house in Vadapalani so as to take a sabbatical and have a laid-back life.
Their modus operandi is they would sneak into crowded MTC buses with babies and target women wearing heavy jewellery. After earning the sympathy of the gullible targets, they would request them to keep the baby or prefer sitting next to them and divert their attention by engaging them into a conversation with the baby. Even as the target is engrossed with the baby, the duo would discreetly remove their jewels or pick their purses. Soon after the strike, the women would tuck the loot into opaque polythene bags in order to reduce the risk of getting flagged by other passengers.
Police suspect that the gang could have been involved in several cases as they frequently used to mask their appearance by either tonsuring their head or changing hairstyles in order to evade getting identified by their victims. Whenever they were caught, they provided fictitious credentials to get away from the situation, which reportedly made it difficult for police to establish their role in many cases. As such, it is the fingerprints which could help establish their identity. Further, sources said the gang had ready access to legal help in the city which ensured their safe return to their native whenever they get caught.