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Gang locks next-door flats before break-in

A gang of burglars locked six flats of a Topsia building, entered a vacant apartment on that floor, feasted on chocolates and soft drinks kept in the fridge and bolted with gold jewellery and household goods early on Sunday.

Neighbours found out the burglary at the empty flat when one of them tried to open the main door of her home in the morning. “The door was locked from outside and I thought it was a prank. I called my neighbour to unlock the latch but when she tried to open her door, it too was locked from outside. Soon we found out we were locked in,” she said.

Sometime later, a boy climbed over a ventilator, reached the corridor and unlocked the flats.

The door of the burgled flat on the top floor of the five-storey building was open.

The small two-bedroom flat on East Topsia Road off the Bypass was taken on rent by one of the families whose doors the burglars had locked.

“My daughter is expecting and we took this flat on rent a week ago so that she and her husband can stay close to us. We live in another flat on the same floor,” said Marium Naushad.

The burglars took away gold jewellery, shoes and a 32inch LED TV among other household goods from the flat that the family has been making ready for the past one week for their daughter and son-in-law to move in. They ate chocolates and drank cola from the fridge.

“We were in the flat till 11.30pm on Saturday. A neighbour arrived at 1.30am. Till then, the door was locked. It seems the burglars broke in between 1.30am and 7.30am,” said Marium, a homemaker whose husband Naushad Ali is a garment trader and has a shop near Nakhoda Mosque in central Calcutta.

Ali and Marium said someone had been watching their movements over the past few days.

“My daughter is living with us for the past month. She got her jewellery from her in-laws’ place on Monday afternoon. The jewellery boxes came in cartoons. I think someone kept a close watch on all the goings-on,” she said.

The family members — the couple and their three children — were sleeping in a 675sq ft flat on the same floor.

“A neighbour called in the morning and requested me to open her main door. She thought a child might have locked the door from outside. When I tried opening my door, I found it locked from outside,” Marium said.

Police said a local gang might be involved. “It seems they had information about valuables being brought to the flat and that it was empty,” said an officer. No one was arrested till late in the evening on Sunday.

Most residents of the building stay on rent. They alleged that the main gate was never closed at night despite repeated requests to the landlord.

The road leading to the building from the Bypass winds through several marble and tiles stores on both sides.