The Mumbai Crime Branch Unit VI Saturday arrested two members of a gang that buys stolen smartphones from snatchers and thieves in the city. A total of 490 smartphones and equipment used to repair the phones have been seized from the criminals, apart from 9.5 kg ganja, 174 liquor bottles and two swords. The collective value of the seizure is Rs 74.78 lakh, sources said.
Sambhaji Kolekar, 34, a police constable from the Crime Branch, received a tip-off that one Mehboob Khan, 37, was dealing in stolen phones. Acting on Kolekar’s information, a team was formed and Khan’s house in Maharashtra Nagar in Mankhurd was raided Friday. Khan’s aide Faiyaz Shaikh, 31, a mobile repairer from the same locality, who helped in changing the IMEI number and refurbished the stolen phones, has also been arrested.
“The accused had rented another room next to his residence to keep the stolen valuables. We are investigating further to find out who else is involved in the crime. They have been booked for criminal conspiracy apart from theft, cheating and other sections of the NDPS Act and the Maharashtra Prohibition Act,” said Ravindra Salukhe, acting senior inspector of the Crime Branch unit.
Khan, a school dropout, lives with his wife and two children. Several years ago, he was arrested in two cases related to mobile thefts, the police said. They added that the accused changed the IMEI number of phones and sold them in the city and in cases where they could not change the IMEI number, they sold the phones in other states.
On April 17, the Indian Express based on an RTI query had reported that 134 mobile phones go missing in Mumbai on a daily basis and FIRs are registered in only three per cent of such cases. In 2019, about 43,397 phones went missing in Mumbai, 39,819 went missing in 2020 and another 51,030 went missing in 2021. In the last three years, only around 15 per cent of the missing phones have been recovered.