Two button-sized GPS trackers kept in the packaging of pawned gold as a precautionary measure by Muthoot Finance’s Hosur branch led to the arrest of men carrying the gold in a container truck.
Although police in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh failed to track the stolen packages, Telangana police was able to track them down, thanks to their technological know-how. Sources in Muthoot Finance said that the branch staff had kept the SIM card-connected GPS trackers in two of the pawned gold packages as a precautionary measure, and even though the tech-savvy dacoits had carried a signal jamming device, they did not check whether it was working and it turned out that it was not. This small neglect on their part in a hurry to flee with the booty worth ₹7.5 crore helped the Telangana police.
“Taking a cue from previous incidents, we keep GPS trackers in a few packets when there is a lot of gold in the chest, and this latest technology initiative came handy for the investigators with whom we shared the links of the tracking devices,” an official told The Hindu.
“Fortunately, we were able to connect to the GPS links and track the gold, even after the five accused travelling in an SUV were caught near Tondupally toll plaza,” an officer associated with the investigation said, adding that the gang members were aware of the trackers as they attempted to rob a Muthoot branch in Ludhiana also. Stating that the ‘illiterate’ dacoits used ‘outstanding technology’ to commit the offence, he said the inter-State armed gang did not use SIM cards for calls. “Instead they purchased a wireless Internet router of a leading telecom company and communicated through ‘untraceable’ Internet calls,” the officer said on condition of anonymity.
The dacoits hid the gold and firearms in a secret cavity behind the driver’s seat of the container lorry and it was hard to find, he said. They managed to reach Anantapur in a Tata Sumo, and from there they hired another Sumo till Shamshabad. “At the taxi stand, they agreed to pay ₹7,000 till Shamshabad. I did not ask them any details, as I don’t know Hindi and they cannot speak Telugu or Kannada,” taxi driver Narayana Swamy said, adding that when they were about to reach the destination, police intercepted the vehicle.
From Hyderabad, the accused planned to go to Nagpur where weapon dealer Lulya Pandey of Jabalpur was waiting for the booty. “There, they were supposed to decide their future plan, including distribution of gold and hideouts,” police said. Lulya arranged six country-made pistols and a firearm made at ordnance factory in Dum Dum, Kolkata, and ammunition for the gang.