Picture on Facebook gives away theft accused after seven years

Police recover 97% of jewellery the domestic help had stolen

A picture put up by a theft accused on Facebook proved to be his undoing, with the Mumbai Crime Branch arresting him seven years after the crime. The accused has taken precautions to destroy his cell phone, change his name, and moving to a different city.

Sandeep Mohanto used to work as domestic help for Abdul Sattar Sheikh, owner of a gold refinery. In October 2012, Mr. Sheikh filed a complaint with the MIDC police in Andheri (East), alleging that Mr. Mohanto had fled with cash and jewellery worth ₹68.2 lakh from his house.

The case was transferred to the Crime Branch Unit X in 2015. “We identified some of his friends in Mumbai, who we suspected that he was still in touch with. While examining their call detail records, we found some numbers from Uttar Pradesh. One of them was registered as ‘Sandeep Sharma’ on TrueCaller,” an officer who was part of the investigation said.

The police searched for the name on social media platforms and found one account with that name and a profile picture matching the description of the accused submitted by Mr. Sheikh. The profile also had a picture of a Chinese food stall, and the board on the stall had the suspect’s name and contact number.

“We tracked the number and learned that Mr. Mohanto was going to be in Mumbai this month. We picked him up in Vile Parle on November 18,” the officer said.

Mr. Mohanto was arrested and produced in court that remanded him in police custody for 10 days. Over the next eight days, the police recovered around 97% of the jewellery that Mr. Mohanto had stolen.

The police said Mr. Mohanto, after committing the crime, destroyed his cell phone and moved to Mathura, where started staying with a woman he considered his sister. He also got married, and now has a seven-month-old son. He also set up a Chinese food stall.

“Mr. Mohanto was hired by Mr. Sheikh as a cook for a wedding in his family and was later hired full time at Mr. Sheikh’s warehouse. Mr. Sheikh provided financial assistance to Mr. Mohanto to start his own street food stall, and Mr. Mohanto changed his name to Din Mohammed. He claims that he embraced Islam due to his closeness to the Sheikhs,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection–I) Akbar Pathan said.

In October 2012, Mr. Sheikh had gone to Solapur to attend a funeral and the rest of the family were at their second home at Shivaji Nagar to celebrate Eid ul-Adha. Mr. Mohanto was with the family and when Mr. Sheikh’s wife asked him to fetch the Quran from their MIDC residence, he cleaned out the house and fled.

“We had lost hope but are happy that even after seven years, we got back almost all of our stolen jewellery,” Mr. Sheikh said.

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