The Chhattisgarh Police has arrested two people in connection with a Rs 20-crore burglary from a jewellery store in New Delhi earlier this week and recovered around 18.5 kg of gold and diamond ornaments from them, a senior official said on Friday.
A joint team of officials from the anti-crime and cyber unit and the Civil Line police station in Bilaspur district carried out the operation while probing a series of thefts in Bilaspur city, Superintendent of Police Santosh Singh told PTI.
Those arrested have been identified as Lokesh Srivas (32), who is allegedly involved in several thefts in Bilaspur, and Shiva Chandravanshi (23), he said. “The value of gold and diamond ornaments recovered from Srivas is estimated at Rs 12 crore but the exact value was yet to be ascertained,” he added.
Acting on a tip-off about Srivas being present in Kawardha town of Chhattisgarh's Kabirdham district, the team conducted a raid there on Wednesday and arrested Chandravanshi along with ornaments worth Rs 23 lakh, he said. “By that time, Srivas had managed to escape,” the SP added.
“The team tracked down Srivas to a house under the Smritinagar police station jurisdiction in Durg district of Chhattisgarh and recovered 18.5 kg of gold and diamond jewellery and Rs 12.5 lakh in cash from him,” Singh said. “Investigation revealed that the jewellery was stolen from a store in New Delhi,” he said, adding a team of the Delhi police has also arrived in Chhattisgarh and further investigation into the matter is underway.
According to police, Srivas stayed within the store for around 20 hours and executed the heist single-handedly. According to reports, Srivas reached Delhi alone, almost a month ago and conducted a recce of the place. He broke into the jewellery from the adjacent building and stayed in the shop for the entire night, police said.
"We found a photo of Lokesh Srivas after an internet search and compared it with the suspects we had identified based on the CCTV footage that we had. We found that the build of the person in the photo matched with that of a suspect in a white shirt and black trousers, carrying a black bag, who was seen in Bhogal market on Sunday," NDTV reported quoting a Delhi police official.
Multiple teams were formed to solve the case. Hundreds of CCTV cameras were examined which revealed that one suspect carrying a backpack was found entering the adjoining building on Sunday night, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southeast Delhi) Rajesh Deo said.
On the basis of inputs received from Chhattisgarh Police, Srivas was identified as the prime suspect, the DCP said. “As Srivas is a resident of Kabir Dham, Chhattisgarh, efforts were made to identify his mode of transport. Based on the technical surveillance, it was revealed that the accused had booked a bus from Delhi to Sagar. The bus left ISBT, Kashmere Gate at 9pm on Monday,” he said.
A team was immediately dispatched to ISBT, Kashmere Gate and the suspect was tracked to Bhilai, Chhattisgarh. A police team reached Raipur around 8.30pm on Thursday. Officials of Raipur and Durg police joined the team, the DCP said.
“In a parallel development, officers from Bilaspur police station had reached the hideout of Srivas at Kabir Dham on Thursday morning from where he managed to escape. However, his associate Shiva was arrested,” Deo said.
Around 7pm, Shiva took Bilaspur Police to the hideout of Srivas at Smiriti Nagar, Bhilai. In the meanwhile, Delhi Police officials also reached the spot around 11pm. Around 5.45am on Friday, Srivas showed up and he was chased by Delhi and Bilaspur Police and was arrested, the DCP said.
Mahaveer Prasad Jain, the owner of the jewellery showroom in Delhi, told reporters, "We are thankful to the police. We have seen pictures of the recovered items and identified those as the ornaments have tags on them. We do not know the arrested people."
According to the Delhi Police, at least three people were involved in the burglary, which was one of the biggest in the national capital. The criminals broke into the shop, made a hole in a strong room and decamped with ornaments worth more than Rs 20 crore as well as Rs 5 lakh in cash.
The shop, Umrao Singh Jewellers, in south Delhi's Bhogal, had several CCTV cameras but they were damaged around Sunday midnight, the police said. The owner closed the shop on Sunday around 8 pm and when he opened it on Tuesday around 10.30am, he got to know about the incident. The shop remains closed on Monday.
Srivas was allegedly involved in 14 cases of burglaries in Bilaspur district, as per Chhattisgarh police. On September 19 and 25, robberies took place in ten shops in two separate locations under Civil Lines police station area of Bilaspur, following which separate teams of police were constituted to probe them and trace the accused, SP Santosh Singh said.
Bilaspur police will produce Srivas in a local court on Saturday, seeking his police remand for interrogation. Chandravanshi was produced in the court on Friday and was sent in judicial custody, he added.