CHENNAI: Are strangers extremely courteous to you on moving trains? Beware! They may be baggage thieves. Kumaran, an Ambattur resident, learnt this the hard way after losing jewellery worth over `2 lakhs last week. An executive employed with a private firm at Chennai, he was travelling with his wife and three-year-old from Tirunelveli by Nagercoil Chennai Central Weekly Super Fast Express on March 14. He was preparing to alight at Perambur Railway Station and placed his baggage near the door.
A stranger waiting near the exit in the air conditioned three-tier coach volunteered to help him out with his luggage. But then came the shocker. “As the train pulled up at Perambur, the stranger and two others began running to the other exit door with my luggage,” Kumaran recalls. However, it was too late, as the trio decamped with 15 sovereigns of gold jewellery and a wrist watch. “I was shouting ‘thieves’ to grab the attention of passersby, though in no time they escaped,” Kumaran, who lodged a complaint with the Government Railway Police (GRP) said.
Meanwhile, GRP nabbed the culprits within 24 hours, but four others in the group were absconding. The arrested persons were identified as Sonu (22) and Sheespal (54) from Haryana. The duo is also suspected to have been part of similar offences in other parts of the State.
According to GRP, the modus operandi of the criminals was not unusual, but the culprits apprehended in this case were operating for their leader based elsewhere. “After a major catch, they would flee as soon as possible. They would be paid by their gang leader,” an investigating officer said. The offenders, sources said, would be courteous to passengers.
Ahead of sketching out their plan of action, they would conduct a recce of all the compartments, looking for vulnerable commuters. They operated as a team of six. “Passengers should be cautious of strangers showing extreme courtesy on their train journey,” said GRP S P Vijay Kumar. Travellers can contact GRP helpline numbers 1512 and 9962500500 for any assistance.