Monday, February 14, 2011

Diamond heist: 14 cases of bank locker theft solved

Almost a month after the crime branch arrested a four-member gang involved in looting diamonds and cash from high security bank lockers in the Zaveri Bazaar, 14 theft cases which were reported from Bank of India, over the past three years have also been solved. The joint commissioner of police, crim
e, Himanshu Roy, said that a total of over Rs8.9 crore of diamonds, deposits, cash and jewellery have been recovered from the mastermind of the gang, Goregaon (East)-based diamond trader Ajay Mehta, and his cronies so far.

Mehta had been arrested by the crime branch along with his associates Chandrasen Berde, 49, Shamshuddin Azmi, 47, and master locksmith from Bhayandar (E) Farid Hasmi, 47, on January 19.

The police had recovered diamonds worth over Rs4 crore from Mehta’s Valsad house, stolen from eight lockers of the Bank of India’s Opera House branch.

During questioning, Mehta disclosed that apart from the eight lockers from which the police had recovered cash and properties worth Rs4.4 crore, he also owned a locker at the same bank where he had kept another (stolen) consignment of diamond and cash.

During search, diamonds worth Rs2.6 crore and cash was found from the locker.

The police then learnt that Mehta has a savings account in which he had deposited Rs83 lakh. The cash too was seized. It was then learnt that he owned two more accounts in which Rs30 lakh and Rs21 lakh deposits had been made respectively. The money was subsequently seized.

Roy said, following the recoveries, the police learnt that thefts had been reported to the bank from time but were not reported to the police. “We will be returning the properties to their rightful owners after completing the necessary legal formalities,” Roy said, adding that some more recoveries were likely in the case.

The police have also recovered 27 duplicate keys, which had been made by Farid. Roy said that keys were being examined and tried to ascertain as to how many lockers were actually opened using these duplicate keys.

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