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Teen thieves held, kingpins roam free

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 21: Stealing motorbikes is teen’s play but evading the net is not. That, for now, remains the domain of those adults who mastermind such thefts.

City cops last night arrested six minors, all school students, for their alleged involvement in theft of motorbikes and seized nine stolen bikes from them.

The boys, who are aged between 14 and 16 and studying in classes IX and X in various government schools, were produced before the Juvenile Justice Board and sent to the Juvenile Reform Centre at Berhampur. Police said the minors were from the city’s Unit-VI and Unit-VIII areas.

Inspector in charge of Capital police station Aseem Panda said these boys would steal motorcycles from different parts of the city. “They used different instruments to unlock old motorcycles and vehicles without double lock. After stealing them, they would hide the two-wheelers at various places in the city,” said Panda.

Sources said these boys were members of a larger gang operating in and around the city. They were operating in Unit-VI, Bapuji Nagar, Market Building, Unit-I market, Ashok Nagar and Unit-VIII. They were found to be involved in many more cases of bike theft cases in the state capital, but the police were only able to seize nine bikes.

“We suspect that these boys were guided by seasoned criminals, who disposed of the vehicles outside the city, at places such as Nayagarh, Khurda, Jajpur, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara. They have been involved in this crime for the past one or two years,” said a senior police officer.

He said the boys had committed the crimes with such adroitness that the cops had no idea about them until recently.

Subhranshu Dash, an advocate, said these boys needed proper counselling during their stay at the reform centre so that they were able to step out of the world of crime once they were free.

“Else they will become lifelong criminals,” said Dash.

Several city residents said they were unhappy that motorcycles were being stolen in the city every day, but the cops had only been able to arrest children, while the masterminds remained at large.

“These goons strike every day and steal motorcycles parked in front of houses, police stations and crowded places. The cop action leaves much to be desired,” said Mohan Rout, a resident of Unit-VI.

On February 16, Aniruddha Nayak, a youth, lost his motorcycle to thieves at the Baramunda bus stand while he was booking a ticket. On February 15, goons stole the motorcycle of Sumit Behera, a private company employee, from Capital Hospital. Behera had parked his vehicle near the hospital police outpost and had double-locked his vehicle.

The cops suspected the involvement of the gang in the theft of Behera’s motorcycle, but could not recover it. “We are searching for the seniors in the gang. Once we nab them, we will recover more vehicles,” said a senior police officer.