CHENNAI : Fourteen people were robbed of cellphones, cash or gold in a series of knife-point robberies by motorbike-borne gangs in various parts of the city in just about four hours late on Sunday. The pattern was strikingly similar. The victims were intercepted suddenly and frightened at knife-point. They were quickly forced to hand over cellphones, cash or jewels. Before anyone could be alerted, the gang vanished from the spot.
“We were just taking a break from work and were headed to a nearby tea shop. Suddenly three men blocked us and threatened with knives. We could not even move or resist. We were so scared that we just handed over our phones,” said J Prabhu. He and his friend R Thamizharasan were working in the night shift for a TV show in a private TV channel at Choolaimedu.
Last week alone eight such knife-point robberies were reported in the city and the police are yet to identify the robbers. But the spurt of similar robberies on Sunday night has left police surprised. The Sunday’s robberies started at Thirumangalam around 10.45pm a migrant worker from Bihar was targetted and a lorry driver managed to catch one of the robbers. But a series of similar cases were reported in different parts of the city throughout the night — at least one in every 30 minutes until 3am.
“I had bought the mobile in instalment. Police also sounded not very promising on recovering the mobile. So I have to pay the remaining EMIs despite losing it,” said Karthik Marimuthu, who was robbed of a cellphone and D25,000 in cash at Ayanavaram around 1.30 am.The incidents were mostly reported from central and south Chennai -- Koyambedu, Ashok Nagar, Arumbakkam and Kotturpuram. A total of D2 lakh worth mobiles phones, 15 sovereign of gold and D30,000 cash were robbed, according to police source. While two persons were arrested, police are largely clueless.
A senior police official said: “Most of them are first time offenders who don’t show up for few months and hence difficult to identify them. These days it is possible to change IMEI numbers of the cellphones, which is way to track stolen phones.”