Bhogal jewellery store heist: How a Chhattisgarh hairdresser managed to pull off a substantial heist

On September 9, two adult males alighted from a train at Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station in Delhi just after a 24-hour-very long journey. A fortnight later, 1 of them would go on to dedicate a single of the biggest heists in the national cash, decamping with jewellery and funds value ₹25 crore. But that was not the motive they experienced occur to Delhi.

Lokesh Srivas, 32, and Shiva Chandravanshi, 23, experienced arrive from Raipur to buy devices for the latter’s health club. They were searching for a thing to consume when an autorickshaw driver available to take them to the close by current market in Bhogal.

South-east Delhi’s Bhogal is entire of compact, one particular-space eateries, bakeries, and juice stores. So, when Srivas and his close friend reached the market place, they couldn’t assistance but recognize the most significant commercial institution in the region, the four-storeyed Umrao Singh Jewellers.

It didn’t acquire Srivas a good deal of time to determine 3 key details — the jewelry store did not have a focused protection guard, it was abutted by a four-storey semi-household developing, and the market was shut each and every Monday. He was, following all, not a petty thief.

There is a marketplace back again in his hometown in Chhattisgarh wherever — since 2019, when he stole 70 cell telephones from a shop in a person evening — shopkeepers have been getting their unsold telephones and accessories again house soon after pulling down the shutters.

The “one-male army”, as Inspector Standard (Bilaspur Selection) Akash Kumar Yadav conditions Srivas, has been booked in at minimum 34 circumstances of theft and theft in 4 States — Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh — and has expended close to two yrs in jail.

About the subsequent few times, he frequented the spot several more times. The system to pull off the most significant burglary of his existence commenced getting condition.

The beginnings

Srivas grew up in a small mud property with his mom and dad and 5 siblings in Pandartarai town in Chhattisgarh’s Kabirdham district. His father, Kapil, worked as an agricultural labourer in Nayapara village, in which sugarcane is the main crop. Just after two sugar factories have been set up, the place noticed a whole lot of alterations in excess of the earlier couple decades. However, the economic development did not seriously trickle down to the landless labourers.

To supplement his meagre money, Kapil normally worked as a element-time barber, which is his family’s ancestral occupation.

So, when Srivas discontinued his experiments immediately after Course X, he was expected to acquire up hairdressing as a career. He before long received an option to work as 1 in a shop in the nearby metropolis of Bhilai. Kapil now claims his son squandered a perfect chance for the reason that of his “criminal tendencies”.

“One of my sons-in-law had a hairdressing store. He questioned my sons Rohit and Lokesh to sign up for him. It was a significant prospect for them. But not lengthy right after, Lokesh was caught stealing, and it has never ever stopped given that,” he claims.

As for each law enforcement data, Srivas was very first booked in a scenario of theft in 2016, registered at the Pandartarai police station.

Kapil, now a sharecropper, has shifted to a puuca house crafted from cash less than the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. He claims attempts to counsel his son have been always satisfied with hostility. “I tried to reprimand him at very first. But for the reason that of his intense mother nature, I stopped declaring anything at all, and appear the place we are these days,” he says, breaking down.

Considering the fact that the Delhi heist, many reporters and people have approached him, asking if he obtained the proceeds of the criminal offense. “I have not acquired a single penny from him. Dig up our residence with a JCB [earth mover] if you want and find out for yourself,” Kapil says.

The 1x1.5-foot hole drilled in the store’s strongroom

The 1×1.5-foot hole drilled in the store’s strongroom
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The heist

Following arriving in the nationwide funds, Srivas manufactured a number of outings in and close to Delhi. For a couple times, he stayed at a guest residence in Chandni Chowk, from the place he purchased a hammer. He also obtained a handheld disc cutter from Shradhanand Marg. Resources like screwdrivers and pliers have been also generally stored in his backpack, an officer said.

At 11 p.m. on September 24, a Sunday when the marketplace shuts early, he climbed up the stairs of the setting up abutting the 75-12 months-aged jewelry shop. He then hopped on to the roof of the store and disabled its CCTV cameras and Wi-Fi community, soon after which he walked down to the ground floor and slept for the upcoming 7 several hours.

Soon after waking up, he helped himself to some candies, biscuits, and soft drinks from the fridge in the shop and waited for some time.

When no one turned up till 11 a.m., he made use of the disc cutter and drilled a 1×1.5-foot hole by way of the strongroom. Srivas packed just about 18 kg of gold and diamonds, as nicely as ₹5 lakh in dollars, and walked out of the adjoining setting up.

The very same evening, all-around 9 p.m., he took a bus from ISBT Kashmere Gate to Sagar in Madhya Pradesh with all the stolen jewelry in his backpack. From there, he took a different bus to Jabalpur, and then to Durg in Chhattisgarh.

The shock

Nothing seemed amiss when 77-calendar year-outdated Mahavir Prasad Jain, the proprietor of Umrao Singh Jewellers, arrived at the shop on September 26 around 10.30 a.m. and rolled up the shutters.

Nonetheless, when he stepped within, he seen dust all about the hole that Srivas experienced drilled in the strongroom.

“At initial, I couldn’t realize how the put could be so soiled and whole of dust. Afterwards, I discovered jewelry missing from the exhibit shelves. I ran to the strongroom and realised I experienced been looted,” Jain claims.

He tried using to entry the CCTV footage but uncovered that the wires connecting the 6 cameras to the recorder experienced been snipped.

“I do not have a stability guard for my store. There is 1 safety guard who is in charge of securing the complete location. Mainly because the shutters had been down, I realised that the thief may perhaps have entered through the adjoining developing,” he says.

Srivas arrested from his rented accommodation in Bhilai. 

Srivas arrested from his rented lodging in Bhilai. 
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Cracking the case

The Delhi police started out their investigation into the case by scanning the footage of about 150 CCTV cameras in the place. They also attained out to cell network companies to give them the dump facts on how lots of mobile telephones had been active in the region on the evening of the heist. Having said that, a significant guide in the circumstance came to them from their counterparts in Chhattisgarh.

On the lookout for intruders associated in the theft at 10 stores in two markets in Bilaspur between August 19 and 23, a police team in Durg, following a idea-off, experienced arrested Chandravanshi and a gentleman named Lokesh Rao, associates of Srivas, who was also current at the place but managed to elude the investigators by leaping from their apartment’s window.

Upon interrogation, the two explained to the police that Srivas experienced fully commited “a massive theft in Delhi”.

Inside of minutes, officers from the Chhattisgarh police linked him to the theft in Bhogal and tipped off the Delhi police.

On September 29, Srivas was arrested from his rented lodging in Bhilai.

Deputy Commissioner of Law enforcement (South East Delhi) Rajesh Deo states they recognized the suspect by matching his photograph despatched by the Chhattisgarh police with an picture captured by a CCTV camera in Bhogal on the day of the crime — September 26.

Srivas was brought to the countrywide funds from Chhattisgarh by the Delhi police on a transit remand on Wednesday. A day later on, a court sent him to two-day police custody.

The ornaments recovered from the accused. 

The ornaments recovered from the accused. 
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File Photograph

‘Counter-intuitive thief’

On staying interrogated, Srivas advised the law enforcement that expanding his hairdressing enterprise was his principal enthusiasm to steal.

The law enforcement have also uncovered proof displaying that he had appear to delight in a lavish way of living funded through the proceeds of criminal offense. “He had begun sporting branded clothing, driving high priced automobiles, and keeping at leading hotels. All this drove him to commit extra thefts,” claims Santosh Singh, Superintendent of Law enforcement, Bilaspur.

In the information of the police station in his hometown, Srivas finds a mention in the listing of habitual offenders or “Nigrani Badmaash”.

“Nigrani Badmaash are repeat offenders who are normally out on bail. The regional law enforcement are mandated to phone them to the police station at the time a month and enquire about their routines,” suggests SP (Kabirdham) Abhishek Pallav.

On how the police track these criminals, Singh says, “We maintain a tab on the previous offenders and individuals who are out on bail. Any time there is a burglary, it is simple to monitor offenders within the State as we manage a database of the criminals.”

A number of law enforcement staff who have tracked Srivas’s crimes speak about his “counter-intuitive traits”. A head constable, who experienced arrested him in relationship with a theft in Odisha, suggests Srivas would usually not conceal his confront though committing a crime despite getting mindful of the presence of CCTVs. He claims Srivas qualified locations exactly where he barely understood any one or even comprehended the nearby language. “He admits guilt very easily and generally qualified prospects the law enforcement to valuables he has stolen with out much energy. He is also acknowledged to have employed cell phones though committing crimes,” an officer states.

In the 1st two months of 2022, Srivas allegedly burgled two jewellery outlets, a pharmacy retail store, and a keep in a procuring mall in Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh.

SP (Vizianagaram) Deepika Patil suggests Srivas committed the crimes without leaving a trace. “All that we had was the encounter of a masked male captured on a CCTV digicam,” she says.

The Bilaspur SP states Srivas spent a great deal of time on YouTube and Google to recognize the format of the goal areas. “Having broken different kinds of lockers at jewellery shops, Srivas was, of late, using tutorials on how to unlock them with specialised applications,” he says.

Family’s disbelief

Anjani, Srivas’s 2nd spouse (his first died from being pregnant-similar complications), doesn’t understand what drives her partner to preserve committing huge-ticket thefts. “He was earning ₹10,000 a thirty day period as a hairdresser. We also get some dollars by leasing out a portion of the house. In the city in which we are living, this substantially is more than enough for us. I don’t know why he compulsively retains committing crimes,” she says.

Six months after their marriage ceremony, he was arrested in a theft situation in Kawardha and enable off after 25 times, she says. “He promised me that he would hardly ever do it yet again, but when I obtained expecting the future 12 months, he committed one more theft.”

“After that incident, even I would be referred to as to the police station in relationship with the investigations, and from time to time even tortured for the thefts he committed,” she adds.

Anjani says her pleas to her husband to give up crime for the sake of their new child also fell on deaf ears. Kapil, way too, are not able to pinpoint a reason that pushed his son into the globe of crime.

A senior Chhattisgarh Law enforcement officer states they had even provided Srivas monetary support to established up a hairdressing shop to stop him from committing burglaries.

Straightforward bail

Despite committing crimes regularly, Srivas has continued to protected bail in pretty much all States promptly. “The Andhra Pradesh police attempted their greatest to oppose his bail petition. We positioned all our clues alongside one another. On the other hand, it is for the courtroom to determine. Experienced he not been offered bail, the condition would have been diverse, and he would have stopped soon after his to start with burglary,” states the Vizianagaram SP.

In accordance to an officer in the Bilaspur police, right after each and every burglary, Srivas would hold apart a portion of the loot to shell out for his legal professionals in get to make certain that he secured early release.

Anjani claims in their most new discussion following his arrest in the Bhogal heist case, her partner certain her that he would be back again “in two decades at the maximum”.