Thieves on autorickshaw nabbed fortnight after attack on old woman

Cops nab couple, who hit elderly woman with hammer, and stole her gold
Jaffer and Sindhu

Thrissur: In a major breakthrough Kerala Police arrested a couple who roamed in an autorickshaw to commit crime. The probe took off earlier this month soon after an elderly woman from Thrissur was assaulted by the duo in their vehicle before snatching her gold ornaments weighing three sovereigns. 

Shadow police arrested Idukki natives Jaffer and Sindhu from Chalakudy.

Two prominent lights and a fancy sticker on their autorickshaw helped the cops to locate it and thus nab the duo. They had targeted the old woman during daytime in Thrissur town under the pretext of offering a lift in the autorickshaw.  

First vehicle hunt

Susheela, 70, was assaulted and robbed on February 9 in an autorickshaw by its driver and a woman seated behind. 

As soon as the probe commenced, the police first tried to track down the autorickshaw. But the vehicle number was not known as none had noted it down. The cops then zeroed in on the images from a CCTV camera located at Athani in Thrissur, but the registration number of the suspicious autorickshaw found herein was not clear. 

The CCTV images of the Paliyekara toll plaza were checked and it was found that this particular vehicle had passed through the area. Some other CCTV cameras in Chalakudy too had its images, but the number was not clear in any of them. 

Despite the difficulty, the police persevered to find the vehicle and thereby hoped to locate the culprits. Trichur City Police Commissioner R Aditya and Assistant Commissioner V K Raju checked the progress of the probe every day. The cops were sure identifying the vehicle with two big lights on the top and a fancy sticker was critical in the probe. Soon, eight teams of shadow police were deployed.

Aditya asked the shadow police to go to all the autorickshaw stands in Chalakudy and also to circulate the photos of this particular vehicle in all the WhatsApp groups of auto drivers.  "Autorickshaws in the Thodupuzha and Muvattupuzha areas have two such big lights on top. The fancy sticker displayed on this auto is also mostly seen in that area," some drivers reportedly said.

The probe then focussed on high-range areas in Idukki district. As many as 4,000 autorickshaws in the district were checked. Only two autorickshaws were found to have such lights but the drivers turned out to be law-abiding individuals.

Turning point: Passerby's inputs

The police continued their search for seven days in Chalakduy. While they were making enquiries at Meloor in Chalakduy, they showed the photo to a woman passing by. Luckily, she told the officers about a certain man and woman who had recently settled in the area. "It has been two months since they started living here. They travel in an autorickshaw, leave their homes by 6am and return only by 11pm. They don't talk to other people in the area," she said. 

Closing in, spotting footwear 

Along with the autorickshaw, a footwear too had been captured by the CCTV. An image showed a part of the footwear worn by the woman sitting in the vehicle. 

When the police reached the house of the couple, as per the directions of the woman passerby, they found the same footwear lying outside. This proved to be a crucial finding.

The police were sure that this was the house of the culprits. The cops then surrounded the house and waited for the couple. After nightfall, the autorickshaw arrived, stopped at the courtyard but soon took off. The cops too followed and blocked it with the police vehicle. The woman got out of the three-wheeler and tried to run but was quickly nabbed. The police also caught the youth, who was with her.

Though the autorickshaw has been seized, the cops are yet to find the ornaments that have been sold off.

United in crime

Jaffer and Sindhu live together. He had been married twice before but had deserted his wives. Sindhu too was separated from her spouse. She has two daughters, and one of them is married. The youngest daughter is with her father. 

The duo used to frequently travel to Idukki in the autorickshaw whenever Jaffer had to appear in court over the cases against him.

He was earlier accused of stealing goats in Idukki.  

The shadow police team comprised sub-inspectors Gladstone, Rajan, Suvratha Kumar and Rafi, along with assistant sub-inspectors Gopalakrishnan, Ragesh and senior civil police officers Jeevan, Pazhaniswamy, Ligesh, Vipin and Ranjini.