The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Theft trail goes cold in wake of monkeys

April 3: Monkey business literally stubbed out a promising trail in the Tagore theft picked up by police sniffer dog Roxy today.

A day after the CID said fingerprints from the Tagore museum matched those of local contractor and conman Pradip Barui, Visva-Bharati guards discovered a pair of rubber gloves hidden under a bunch of leaves near the theft site.

Sensing the gloves could have been used by the thieves who whisked off Tagore’s Nobel medal and other memorabilia, police were immediately sent for.

A sniffer dog was also pressed into service by the CBI to smell out the culprits, in a first since the theft was detected on March 25.

Roxy, a German shepherd, was made to carefully sniff the gloves and then taken on a round of the ground floor museum where the theft had occurred. Suddenly, it picked up a trail, bounded ahead and jumped out of the window through which the burglars had broken into the museum.

The dog then raced towards a hole in the barbed wire fence — the police believe it was made by the criminals — slipped through it, darted past Kala Bhavan and headed for a dense clump of trees, which would have been an ideal hideaway for thieves looking for cover.

At the sight of the dashing dog, the forest suddenly stirred to life. Hundreds of startled monkeys showed up from nowhere, began to chatter and squeal and keep pace with Roxy’s furious barks. Distracted and bewildered, the dog stopped in its tracks and turned its attention on the monkeys.

Exasperated CBI officers, who had been following Roxy all along, then gave up the chase. In the evening, they announced a Rs 10 lakh reward for anyone providing clues to the whereabouts of the criminals or the stolen goods.

Barui was today produced in Bolpur court in connection with a mobile phone theft and remanded in judicial custody till April 17. The CBI did not seek his custody or ask to question him.

Barui has been in detention for several days but has not cracked in the face of intense interrogation. Several leads were followed, but the police have drawn a blank. “He seems a tough nut to crack,” said C.V. Murlidhar, DIG (CID), in the city.

The CBI has now mounted a fresh investigation and is hoping to make a breakthrough in a week. “We will start everything from scratch and conduct investigation in a different way,” an official said from Delhi.

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