Auto driver, aide in net for string of night robberies

An autorickshaw driver and his accomplice robbed several passengers at isolated places in the dark assuming their crimes would go unnoticed because most of their victims were outsiders.But they ran out of luck last week.

Their folly of ferrying passengers at night in the autorickshaw with original registration number landed them in jail. An alert policeman Balasaheb Bhairat spotted their three-wheeler (MH12 HC4906) near Gunjan Talkies Chowk in Yerawada and saw the duo waiting for a passenger suspiciously on July 16. Bhairat tipped off his su periors. A police team led by assistant inspector Madhukar Thorat of the Yerawada police station rushed to the spot and took the autorickshaw driver, Javed Khalil Khan (44), and his accomplice, Ashfaque Mohammad Shaikh (25) from Laxminagar in Yerawada, into custody for questioning.

The robbers, during interrogation, confessed to their involvement in robbing three passengers of cash and cellphones on the premises of an industrial school and an observation home in Yerawada on July 2, 10 and 15. Assistant inspector Madhukar Thorat said on Tuesday the robbers admitted to have robbed “15 to 20“ passengers in the past few months for making fast bucks. But none of their vic tims registered complaints because they were not from Pune.

Thorat said the police had seized the autorickshaw and recovered three cellphones and cash, worth Rs1.65 lakh together, from the duo.

Investigations revealed the autorickshaw was registe red in the name of Khan with the regional transport office, Pune. A diabetic, Khan is also suffering kidney problems.

Khan told police during interrogation that the customs department had arrested him in a drug peddling case in 1998. He started driving autorickshaw for earning bread and butter after he was acquitted by the special court.

Khan’s accomplice, Shaikh, studied up to Std IX and was jobless. He was addicted to drugs. Shaikh was arrested in a robbery case in 2015.

According to police, the duo residing in the same locality were in need of money . They decided to rob passengers at secluded places. They shared the cash among themselves after committing each offence, while Shaikh sold the phones at throwaway prices to known people.

Thorat told TOI that the robbers picked up passengers from bus stands and railway and valuables. The duo used to drive the victims to isolated places and rob them in darkness after threatening them with dire consequences.

A source said the suspects gave vague and misleading replies each time they were asked to lead the police to the crime scenes.

Source : TOI