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100 phones looted in Big Bazaar heist

A burglar with a towel wrapped around his face took away at least 100 mobile phones and several tablets from the unguarded Big Bazaar outlet in Metropolitan Building, Esplanade, on Wednesday night.

Footage from security cameras in the store showed the man moving around the display counters after 11pm, police sources said.

The images are grainy since the store, at the crossing of JL Nehru Road and SN Banerjee Road, was closed and the lights were off.

No guard is posted outside at night after business hours.

Senior officers said the total value of the stolen goods would be known only after the final inventory is made. Big Bazaar officials were not available for comment on Friday.

The theft was detected when the staff reported for duty on Thursday morning and found empty racks and counters on the ground floor of the two-storey store. A complaint was lodged with New Market police station soon after.

The thief concentrated on a section with 10 display cabinets having glass front doors, where mobile phones of various makes and prices are kept. Mobile phone accessories, tablets and digital cameras are also displayed there.

A separate table is reserved for open display of gadgets that customers can touch and see.

The police said the thief cleared them all. At least one bag, apparently picked from the women’s section on the first floor, was used to stuff the booty, an officer added.

Officers investigating the burglary suspect an insider’s hand since no signs of a break-in were found on any of the multiple entry-exit gates. They said someone who had access to the store’s keys might have been behind the crime.

An officer said the thief didn’t break any of the glass doors of the display units but gained access by unlocking them and left them open after the crime.

“It could also be probable that he hid himself in the store while the staff filed out at night. The store was dark, barring a few emergency dim lights in which the surveillance cameras captured the thief in action,” said an officer.

The sprawling store, one of the largest Big Bazaar outlets in the city, has more than 100 employees.

It has multiple entry-exit points but two main entrances, one on JL Nehru Road and the other on SN Banerjee Road. These apart, the store has glass gates used only as exits.

All these are kept secure with iron shutters that are locked from outside after the store is closed.

Another door on the first floor opens into a small room for staff use. The room’s second door leads to a bylane behind the store on SN Banerjee Road.

The police said all these exits were “intact” when they reached the spot.

Police said many of the CCTVs were not working, thereby hampering the investigation.

Youth arrested

Mohammad Jabbar, 19, who was arrested on the charge of attempting a robbery, fled while being taken to Sealdah court on Friday afternoon by GRP personnel.

He was nabbed again in the evening. Police said Jabbar, a resident of Tiljala, was arrested from a hideout near his home.

Pistol seized

A 23-year-old youth was arrested on Wednesday night for allegedly possessing an illegal country-made pistol.

Police said Ganesh Tirupati was arrested from Strand Road around 10pm with the pistol that he had allegedly procured to sell.