Jewel thief takes 200 flights in a year to steal from cabin baggage | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Jewel thief takes 200 flights in a year to steal from cabin baggage

By, New Delhi
May 14, 2024 08:53 AM IST

Police arrested a man for booking flights under his dead brother's name, stealing from passengers and passing valuables to a jeweler in Delhi over the past year

A 40-year old man allegedly booked more than 200 flights over the past year under his dead brother’s name, stole jewellery and cash worth crores from his co-passengers’ cabin baggage and passed them onto a jeweller in west Delhi, police said on Monday, after arresting the prime suspect and his aide and cracking down on the elaborate operation.

The suspect, Rajesh Kapoor, travelled for more than 110 days, taking more than 200 trips in that time, with Chandigarh and Hyderabad among his top destinations (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)
The suspect, Rajesh Kapoor, travelled for more than 110 days, taking more than 200 trips in that time, with Chandigarh and Hyderabad among his top destinations (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

The suspect, Rajesh Kapoor, travelled for more than 110 days, taking more than 200 trips in that time, with Chandigarh and Hyderabad among his top destinations. Most often, he took round trips that departed from Delhi, travelled on premium domestic airlines and targeted senior citizens.

Also read: Jewel thief in Bihar jail behind spate of heists?

“He exploited the chaotic boarding process and sifted through the overhead baggage bins, stealing valuables from unlocked bags as passengers settled into their seats,” said Usha Rangnani, Delhi’s deputy commissioner of police (Indira Gandhi International Airport).

He booked tickets using his dead brother’s name, Rishi Kapoor, to give airlines and law enforcement the slip, she said. Rishi died a year-and-a-half ago.

Kapoor has allegedly been a serial offender for nearly 20 years, according to police, who added that he has been involved in 11 previous cases of theft. For years, Kapoor burgled passengers on trains, but upgraded to planes in 2022.

Police got on Kapoor’s trail after two passengers reported jewellery worth lakhs missing from their cabin baggage.

The first complaint was registered on February 2 this year by Varinderjeet Singh, a resident of the United States, who travelled from Amritsar on an Air India flight to Delhi, where he was to board a connecting flight to Frankfurt in Germany. During his travel to the Capital, though, his bag was burgled of jewellery worth 20 lakh, Singh told police.

The second was registered on April 11, when Sudharani Pathuri was travelling on an Air India flight from Hyderabad to Delhi. She was to board a connecting flight for the United States. She said her bag was missing jewellery worth 7 lakh.

As police pored over CCTV footage from airports in Delhi, Amritsar and Hyderabad and roped in Air India officials, they spotted a man who had travelled on both the flights in question. Investigators then found that he had booked the tickets using a phone number that wasn’t his own.

Air India spokespersons did not respond to requests seeking comment on the matter.

Police narrowed Kapoor down to Paharganj, the popular backpackers’ hub in central Delhi, where he ran the guest house “Ricky Delux”. He lived with his family on the top floor of the four-storey building.

“We raided the building and arrested him on Friday morning,” said Rangnani, adding that the property is registered in his mother’s name.

Kapoor’s interrogations, Rangnani said, revealed that apart from the two cases, he was also involved in three similar thefts over the past four months. Two of these cases, where jewellery worth a combined 62.5 lakh was stolen, were registered at the IGI Airport police station. The fifth case was registered in Hyderabad.

“After examining his travel logs, collected from airlines, for the past year, we found that Kapoor travelled for more than 110 days and took around 200 flights, just for the thefts. We are now collecting his travel data for the past two years,” she added.

Also read: Woman released from jail on car theft charge steals pickup truck, then this happens

He also led the police to Sharad Jain, a 46-year-old jeweller who runs a shop in Regharpura in West Delhi. He allegedly received stolen valuables from Kapoor for over a year, melted the ornaments and used them to make more jewellery.

“Before melting the ornaments, Jain removed their diamonds and returned them to Kapoor — they were of no good use to him,” added Rangnani.

Police said Kapoor mostly travelled between Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Amritsar and was arrested in 11 previous cases.

He stopped stealing around 2018, but began committing thefts again around two years ago, said police.

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