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Thief smart, MP smarter
The Targets
Flat No. 176ís barsati, servantsí quarters
Flat 179, RS member E.M. Sudershan Nachiappan (Congress)
Flat 181, RS member Dinesh Trivedi (Trinamul Congress)
Flat 183, RS member D.N. Sarma (Congress)
Flat 184, LS member Vijay Shankar (BJP)

New Delhi, Dec. 19: Thieves will know better than to break into houses of MPs from now on.

Early this morning, burglars struck on not one, but five flats in the South Avenue residential area for MPs in a string of break-ins that has shaken up the security establishment. Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Prime Minister's residence are a stone's throw from South Avenue.

But all that the thieves found ' no, there were no stashes of cash inside the pillow or under the mattress ' was a mobile phone and some ice cream.

Four of the flats ' numbers 179, 181, 183 and 184 ' belong to MPs.

The thieves first tried to enter Flat No. 176 through the barsati (rooftop room) around 3.30 am, but found it was the servants' quarters.

Next on the hit list was Rajya Sabha member E.M.S. Nachiappan's residence (179) on the ground floor which they sneaked into through the rear. The intruders simply removed a windowpane and opened the door.

Nachiappan, who belongs to the Congress, is no stranger to intrusions.

'This is the third time that someone broke into my house. The last time my house was robbed was when I was away for my granddaughter's birthday. Someone broke in and stole some brass items. After that, I met the then home minister, L.K. Advani, and some new walls were put up around the house. However, it was not done properly and that is why this has happened,' he said.

Delhi police officials said the thick fog that hung over the capital would have shielded the thieves. The five attempts appeared to have taken place between 3.30 and 4.30 when the shift changes.

After Nachiappan's house, the thieves targeted the adjacent Flat No. 181 of Rajya Sabha MP from Bengal Dinesh Trivedi (Trinamul Congress). 'I had gone to Ahmedabad and returned around 1 am. The sound of the rattling door woke me up. When I went to check, it was open,' said Trivedi.

For some reason, the thieves had their eyes mostly on Rajya Sabha members. The next victim, Dwijendra Nath Sarma (Congress) from Assam, is also from the Upper House, but the attempt on his flat proved unsuccessful.

The intruders entered BJP Lok Sabha member Vijay Shankar's home (Flat No. 184), through the kitchen and walked into an empty master bedroom as the MP was away in Mysore. 'There were guests in other rooms. There was nothing valuable in the house,' Shankar said.

A suspect was later detained. 'Though not much was stolen, this is a high security area,' said Anita Roy, the deputy commissioner of police, New Delhi.

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