Two men involved in a racket that saw more than 100 elderly women falling prey to their cunning tricks and parting with their jewellary in Colombo and its suburbs were nabbed this week, police said.
They said, the suspects from Kotahena and Athurugiriya were arrested by the Talangama police after a threewheeler driver tipped them off, bringing to light a racket that had been going on for two years.
Talangama’s Chief Inspector Upul Perera told the Sunday Times that the gang targeted women walking in deserted areas.
Meanwhile, giving a detailed account of the gang’s modus operandi, Crime Division Inspector Roshan Anuruddha said the men would initially travel in a three wheeler to pick out their would-be victims.
“Soon as they come across a woman who they believed they could trick, one of them would drive past in a three wheeler and drop a parcel close to her. As she tries to collect the parcel a second man would appear on the scene and pick it up. He would then partially open the parcel and tell the unsuspecting woman that there was cash in it and that they could share it between them. If the woman agreed he discussed how it could be done,” IP Anuruddha said.
“But before they can proceed the man who had initially dropped the parcel now approaches the two of them and the man who had been discussing how to share the money tells the woman to quickly put the money in her handbag,” he said.
When the second man on the scene asks them whether they had seen a parcel containing cash, both the man and woman say no.
IP Anuruddha said by this time usually the woman is in a state of panic with the knowledge that she has the parcel in her handbag.
The first man even goes to the extent of removing the chain he is wearing and swearing on it that he hasn’t seen a parcel. He tells the woman also to remove her chain and any other jewellary she has on her and put them in a brown paper bag that he produces. Both of them then swear they haven’t seen the parcel,” the inspector further said.
The other man, then walks away, stating that he would search for the missing parcel. Before leaving the scene he returns the brown paper bag to the woman. However, unknown to her the man has swapped the brown bag with the jewellary.
“Thereafter the first suspect who had offered to share the money with the woman offers to assist the other man to look for the parcel. He tells the woman to stay at the same spot that he would return soon,” IP Anurudhdha said.
“When the man fails to return, after some time, she looks into the paper bag and finds only grains of rice and not her jewellary. Realising that she had been tricked the woman opens the parcel that was now in her handbag only to find a bundle of blank paper cut up to resemble 1,000 rupees notes tied up with a rubber band,” he said.
Inspector Perera said the breakthrough occurred after a woman who had been approached in a similar fashion in Koswatte had felt suspicious and shouted out prompting a three-wheeler driver to note down the number of the three-wheeler that had driven off after dropping a parcel. They had then alerted the police.
He said the crime had gone undetected so far because none of the women had come forward and made a complaint as they were embarrassed at being hoodwinked and were themselves guilty of trying to take something that did not belong to them.
He said the women who had fallen prey to these tricksters should make a complaint at least now as some of the gold jewellery that had been pawned by the two suspects had been recovered.
|Some of the recovered jewellery that had ben pawned.
Pix by Saman Kariyawasam