Police said the women would divert the attention of elderly people, and rob them of their valuables
In a major operation, the city police rounded up a gang of seven women allegedly involved in a series of attention-diversion offences targeting senior citizens at bus stops and crowded places, at several places in Chennai.
In the past two days, at least 15 incidents of thefts — of valuables after the diversion of attention of senior citizens, and bag-lifting — were reported in Thiruvottriyur, New Washemenpet, R.K. Nagar, Villivakkam, Esplanade, Flower Bazaar, Basin Bridge, and Egmore police stations. The police registered cases for theft and cheating.
Joint Commissioner of Police, North V. Balakrishnan told The Hindu, “Following complaints, we constituted special teams to trace the suspects. After analysing the pattern of offences, we short-listed photographs of criminals involved in similar crimes and scrutinised CCTV footage and the call records of suspects. Our women police constables were deployed in plainclothes on surveillance duty at bus stops and in crowded shopping areas, which were the potential target areas of criminals. After working on several leads, we traced the suspects who were staying at a rented house in KK. Nagar and arrested seven women and recovered 200 grams of gold from them,” he said.
The seven women: K. Rani, 28, R. Thilaga, 31, V. Rajamani, 50, K. Mariya 33, S. Esakiammal, 27, M. Lakshmi, 40 and T. Usha, 34 hailing from Manthi Thoppe, Thoouthukudi were remanded in judicial custody.
Explaining the modus operandi, a police officer said, “The gang targeted only senior citizens standing at bus stops. For instance, they would come in an autorickshaw and offer a lift after convincing the victim that no bus would come in the COVID-19 pandemic period. After the victim was seated between two of them, one would speak to the victim casually, while the other would remove their gold thali, once the victim’s attention was diverted.”
“To prevent further occurrence of crimes, we have taken all steps and have convened a meeting of autorickshaw drivers to request them to pass on any clues,” Mr. Balakrishnan said.