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Pune Crime Files: How a couple that met on Instagram became serial vehicle thieves | Pune News

For over two months, a team from Pune’s Sinhagad Road Police Station was on the trail of two thieves who had stolen half a dozen vehicles in their jurisdiction since February. When the investigation team finally zeroed in on them on June 7, it was up for several disclosures.

Behind the series of vehicle thefts was a young couple. During their questioning, the police found out two had already spent time in prison for vehicle thefts, were released on bail in February, and resumed stealing. Their modus operandi was to steal motorcycles and then use them to steal the cars.

A team from Sinhagad Road Police Station led by Assistant Inspectors Sachin Nikam and Santosh Bhandwalkar were pursuing the thieves who had stolen bikes and cars in February. Earlier this month, Constables Uttam Taru, Rahul Olekar, and Shivaji Kshirsagar received a concrete lead. On June 7, as the team finally zeroed in on their location, the two were traced and caught when they were in a car in the Wadki Nala area of Loni Kalbhor. The police arrested the man, 24, who is from Baramati, and detained the woman, 21, who hails from Solapur. The man is in police custody till June 18.

Nikam said both are school dropouts from very weak financial backgrounds who battled family issues at a young age. “Their questioning revealed the two had met on Instagram more than three years ago and subsequently got married. They were arrested in October last year by another police unit for a series of vehicle thefts and were in prison till February when they were released on bail. Since then, our probe now suggests, the couple has stolen 17 vehicles, including eight cars and nine bikes,” said Nikam.

According to Nikam, six of these 17 thefts were from Sinhagad Road police jurisdiction and 11 from Bharti Vidyapeeth, Kondhwa, Hadapsar, Koregaon Park, and Wanawadi areas in Pune and also from Nagpur. “After stealing these vehicles in Pune they sold them in Nagpur, Shirdi, and Shrirampur areas of Maharashtra. After their arrest, we have recovered and seized all the 17 stolen vehicles, based on the information they provided,” he said.

A police officer, who is part of the probe, said the couple started stealing vehicles over two years ago to earn easy money and continued to do so. “They have been on the move since. The two never had a permanent place to live… primarily to evade arrest or getting caught. People are less likely to have suspicions of thefts when a man and woman are seen together and the couple took advantage of this idea. They used to steal a bike and then move to the area from where they intended to steal cars. The two kept watch on the target by renting a room in lodges. They stole cars mainly in the night hours. They sold these stolen vehicles outside Pune,” said the officer.

“Our preliminary information suggests that before the two were arrested in October last year, the two had stolen at least 14 vehicles from various parts of Maharashtra. We have recovered from them a large bunch of duplicate keys and the tools they used to steal the vehicles,” added the officer.

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