World | India

Mobile phone wallpaper leads police to thief

Construction worker arrested after breaking into jewellery story

  • By S. Narendra, Correspondent
  • Published: 18:39 February 18, 2013
  • Gulf News

Mumbai: The wallpaper a thief used on his mobile phone proved to be a giveaway in a crime he committed at Malad in north Mumbai. The thief landed behind bars in less than a week since he broke into a jewellery shop.

Mohammad Salman Shaikh (20), a construction worker, broke into the gem store on Zakaria Marg on the night of February 12.

Not wanting to alert the people, he chose not to switch on the lights in the shop and instead used his cellphone light as a torch to move around the store. As most valuable items having been kept in vaults, all that he could lay his hands on were some silver items worth Rs5,000 (Dh338), which he made away with.

However, on the following morning, the owner of the shop Pankaj Jain noticed that some of the silver items were missing from his shop. Suspecting a burglary, Jain lodged a complaint with the Malad police.

During the investigation that followed, the police examined the footage from the CCTV camera installed inside the store. The CCTV camera had captured the movements of Shaikh.

“Except his face, everything was visible. From the clothes that he had worn, the thief in the footage looked like a construction worker. What proved to be a major clue for us was the wallpaper of a south Indian film star that he had used as the wallpaper on his mobile phone which the CCTV footage showed us clearly,” Manohar Harpude, an officer attached to Malad police station, said.

For starters, the police combed the area to find if any construction was going on. To the investigators’ utter surprise, there was an under-construction building site located right next to the jewellery shop where the burglary had taken place.

Suspecting that the burglary could be the handiwork of one of the construction labourers, the police called all the labourers for questioning and their mobile phones were checked. Among those labourers grilled by the police was Shaikh himself. After a cursory examination of the mobile phone used by Shaikh, the investigators found that the wallpaper on his mobile was identical to the one captured on the CCTV footage from the burgled jewellery shop.

In a typical Sharlock Homes’ “it’s elementary my dear Watson” style, the investigators confronted Shaikh with the available evidence — in the form of matching wallpaper on the mobile phone. It did not take long for Shaikh to confess that he had committed the crime and that he had kept the stolen silver items at his home.

Having arrested him, the Malad police recovered the stolen valuables from his home.

A local court has remanded Shaikh in police custody until February 20. Shaikh faces charges of trespassing and theft.

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