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Jewel thieves decamp with half-tonne vault
- Sniffer dog follows 2.5km trail from Telco shop, but cops draw blank on Rs 3.75-lakh heist

A gang of burglars broke into a jewellery store in Jamshedpur’s Telco early on Wednesday and carried away an entire vault containing gold ornaments in a remote reminder of a more stunning heist in the 2003 Hollywood film The Italian Job.

Dulhan Jewellers owner Raju Soni, who is also a Tata Motors employee, estimated his losses at more than Rs 3.75 lakh. While the jewellery would be worth anything around Rs 3 lakh, the iron vault, which weighed over half a tonne, bore a hefty price tag too, he said.

The break-in at New Market, close on the heels of serial burglaries at Kharangajhar market in Telco, has left police baffled. A sniffer dog led them on a 2.5km trail to the backyard of a vacant residential quarter of Indian Steel and Wire Products, where they drew a blank. Their only chance in recovering the booty lies in the hope that the burglars, whose numbers have not been ascertained yet, may have to wait for a professional safecracker before they can ditch the heavy vault, which in turn will slow them down.

In the Gary Gray movie, a professional safecracker, his protégé and others steal 35 million dollars worth of gold bullion from Italian gangsters in Venice by using C4 plastic explosives to blow up the ceiling underneath the vault and whisking away the entire chunk of iron through waterways.

Though the theft at Dulhan Jewellers wasn’t anywhere close to The Italian Job in expertise or in scale, owner Soni couldn’t help but express his surprise at the bizarre modus operandi.

“The criminals dismantled the shutter to enter, but were perhaps not equipped to open the vault. Never in my nightmares would I have imagined that someone would carry away the entire safe,” said Soni who learnt about the burglary from the owner of an adjoining shop around 8.30am.

Soni added that though there was a night guard on the market premises, the latter claimed to have heard no alarming sound.

DSP (city) K.N. Choudhury said the officers-in-charge of Birsanagar and Telco police stations, Birsingh Munda and Kamleshwar Pandey, respectively, had inspected the spot. Later, the canine squad was pressed into service. “The sniffer dog reached the backyard of a IS&WP quarter, some 2.5km away. Nothing was found there,” he added.

A woman residing in the neighbourhood told police that some people might have entered the area as her backdoor was locked from outside.

Birsanagar OC Munda said the break-in at Dulhan Jewellers might have taken place past 2am after a patrol vehicle crossed the area. “The burglars are carrying the vault with them. They won’t be able to go far. We will track them down,” the officer said.

On August 8, a gang had decamped with gold and silver jewellery worth over Rs 1 lakh from a shop at Kharangajhar market. Attempts were made at two other shops the same night. Police haven’t made headway in the cases.