How 600 cameras, a broken headlight helped nab kidnappers in Chennai

But the culprits were still at large. What followed was a meticulous probe. A team of just 5 policemen cracked the case within 6 days.
Express Illustration
Express Illustration

CHENNAI: It was one of the most sensational child abduction cases that the city had seen in a long time. Baby Sanjana, barely four-months-old, was taken away from her parents while they were sleeping at the Koyambedu banana market on November 9. Within the next 15 hours, the police were able to rescue Sanjana, who had been abandoned by then.

But the culprits were still at large. What followed was a meticulous probe. A team of just 5 policemen cracked the case within 6 days. But, they had to go through visuals of a whopping 600 CCTV cameras. It all began at 6am on November 9. The Koyambedu police received a complaint about the missing baby. Soon, three special teams were formed to nab the culprits. Commissioner Mahesh Kumar Aggarwal gave instructions to all check posts to stay on high alert.

As pressure mounted, the criminals decided to abandon the baby. Around 9pm the same day, a patrol team found Sanjana abandoned in Ambattur Industrial Estate. Within an hour, she was reunited with her parents. While the story ended well for the family, the action had just begun for the five-member team of Koyambedu police station. 

“First, we dug out footage from around the place where the baby was abandoned,” an officer in the team told Express. “It was near an automobile showroom. Visuals showed a woman getting out of an auto and dropping a baby at the spot. We spotted two more in the vehicle, including the driver.” Based on the direction in which the auto travelled, the team started scanning through other CCTV visuals – one after another till they had touched 600.

“After several detours, the auto went from Ambattur to a rented house in Koyambedu. Luckily a neighbouring house had installed a CCTV camera, which is what helped us crack the case.” So, how did the cops manage to spot that one single auto through all those visuals amid all the traffic? “Simple. This one auto was running through the city without switching on its headlight.” Once the location was identified, the cyber crime cell came into play.

Six persons, including two women and two juveniles, were arrested on December 9. The gang had stolen the baby to sell it to a party that had offered Rs 15 lakh. The buyer, however, did not know the baby was being kidnapped. When they demanded to see the parents, the gang panicked and abandoned the child.

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The New Indian Express
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