Pune: Itching powder spray gang, which is attaining notoriety for robbing people across the city by using itching powder, is still running loose.
The latest victim of the gang was a 44-year-old employee of a private firm in MIDC, Bhosari. The man was robbed of Rs 2,50,000 by a group of four who made away with the amount after spraying itching powder on him. He was the seventh victim of the gang.
The incident occurred on Friday evening near Landewadi slums in the jurisdiction of MIDC Bhosari police station.
The complainant went to withdraw the money from a bank to pay the salaries of his employees. The complainant, Mahesh Kirad of Bhawani Peth, was robbed while he was returning after withdrawing the money amounting to Rs 2,50,000 from the bank.
Rajendra Vibhandik, Police Inspector (Crime), MIDC Bhosari police station, said, “The complainant who was on his way to the workplace after withdrawing the money received a phone call while he was passing through Telco Road near Landewadi slums. “As he stopped his motorcycle to take the call, he found four motorcycle-borne men next to him who sprayed the itching powder on him. “As the itching on his neck became unbearable, he took out the bag and put it on the petrol tank of the bike."
"While he was busy itching his neck with both his hands, the thieves fled with the bag which was kept on the petrol tank. We have started our investigation and will nab the thieves soon,” added Vibhandik.
It is significant to note that the most of the thefts committed by itching powder spray gang have occurred in the areas of Zone -3 (Hinjawadi, Chatuhshrungi, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Bhosari and other areas) and Zone-4 (Kondhwa, Mundhwa,
Yerawada and other areas).
Three cases have occurred in Zone three whereas four cases have occurred in Zone-4 in last two months.
According to a source in the police department, these gangs carry out reconnaissance before looting their victims. They get inside the banks on the pretext of depositing or withdrawing money. They wait in the queue and keep an eye on the people who are withdrawing money.
He said, “If they find someone withdrawing a large amount of money, they target that person. If there are two persons together, they try to separate them saying that they have forgotten something in the bank or someone is calling them inside. If one person goes inside, they find easy to attack the single target. They snatched the bags of their target if they are carrying the bags in their hand; if somebody has cross bags, they then spray itching powder on their neck so that victim takes it out and becomes an easy prey for the thieves.”
“Some thieves use the modus operandi of throwing dirt on the clothes of their victims and then offer to help them giving handkerchief. While the target is busy cleaning the cloth, they snatched the bag from his/her hand. The primary motive of thieves is to divert the attention using these techniques,” added the source.
When contacted, Pankaj Dahane, DCP (Crime) regarding the itching powder spray gang, he said, “We are investigating the matter and are going to nab the gang soon. Meanwhile, people should be cautious while withdrawing a large sum of money. I advise people to be accompanied by someone while going to bank or ATM to withdraw a large amount of cash. Use crossbody bags to keep the cash so that nobody can snatch it away.”
Dahane advised that if in case somebody is attacked by the itching spray, that person should first move to a safe place as soon as possible and then inform the police.
One should not pay attention if somebody approaches them saying that they have dropped their money or bag. Most important is that if people find someone suspicious, they should immediately inform on number 100.