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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Brakes slam on car-lifter
- Cops warn against parking vehicles in the open at night

Before parking your car in an open space at night, take care of its music system. The next morning, you may find it playing in an autorickshaw.

The warning was issued by officers of the detective department, following the arrest of Gautam Adhikary in Kasba on Wednesday.

Adhikary, in his mid-thirties, confessed that he had stolen at least a dozen music systems from parked cars and sold them to autorickshaw drivers in south and east Calcutta. He himself is an autorickshaw driver.

'We have recorded 17 cases of such thefts in the past month. Adhikary was involved in most of them,' said Gyanwant Singh, deputy commissioner (I) of police, detective department.

Police swung into action after a number of complaints of car-lifting poured in from the Lake, Gariahat and Tollygunge areas.

In almost all the cases, cops spotted the vehicles around half-a-km from where they were parked. But the music systems and the batteries were cleaned out.

Deputy commissioner Singh said Adhikary used to operate alone. 'He was not a member of any racket. He was involved in more cases that he admitted being a party to.'

Elaborating on Adhikary's modus operandi, a sleuth said: 'He used to conduct a survey before carrying out an operation. And he would strike well after midnight.'

To hoodwink police and night guards, Adhikary would wear the uniform of taxi drivers, grey shirt and trousers.

'The only weapon he used was a small iron rod that looked like a screw driver,' pointed out Singh.

'After unlocking the gate, he would turn on the engine and drive the car to an isolated place. Once in a safer location, he would take out the music system and then open the bonnet and remove the batteries and other small parts,' he elaborated.

The next day, he would scout for a buyer for the stolen articles.

'Autorickshaw drivers were his prime customers. He sold them music systems worth Rs 7,000 onwards at Rs 500-1,000,' Singh said.'

After interrogating Adhikary, sleuths went to Kasba and Tiljala to cross-check his confessions. 'The officers came to know that most auto-rickshaws plying on the EM Bypass-Kasba connector play stolen music systems,' said another officer of the detective department.

'Autorickshaws in the city often play digital sound systems. If a driver wants to buy such a system lawfully, he will have to shell out more than Rs 10,000. Our probe has revealed people like Adhikary sell these dirt cheap,' said the officer.

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