13 cars with manipulated engine, chassis numbers, worth Rs 1.39 crore, seized; 4 arrested

PUNE: Four men have been arrested and 13 cars, with manipulated engine and chassis numbers, worth Rs 1.39 crore have been seized on Tuesday.

On January 26, Pimpri-Chinchwad police had recovered of 12 stolen cars with manipulated engine and chassis numbers in a similar raid, with the arrest of one person.

The Pimpri-Chinchwad police have now recovered 25 such cars, collectively worth at least Rs 3.5 crore.

The five men arrested so far have been identified as Chanprit Harvindarpal Singh (43); Manjit Jogindersingh Marwa, a resident of Walhekarwadi in Chinchwad and a native of New Delhi; Deepak Chamanlal Khanna (40), a resident of New Delhi; Pratik alias Nagesh Chagan Deshmukh (28), a resident of Khopoli in Raigad; and Harun Sharif Shaikh (39), a resident of Chikali in Pune, according to police.

“Theirs was a unique modus operandi. They bought damaged cars from insurance companies. They identified the make, year, model, and colour of the damaged vehicle and stole vehicles with similar configurations from other states. They assembled the new car with parts from the insurance company scrap vehicles and sold them at a cheaper cost,” said Krishna Prakash, commissioner, Pimpri-Chinchwad police.

The men had devised a method of deriving maximum cost benefit from the situation by simply wiping or scrubbing the engine number and selling dismantled spare parts of the stolen cars separately.

“Depending on the age and brand of the vehicle, they put it on sale at any price between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 18 lakh. And because they also offered papers and insurance with the manipulated car, people bought them. The scrapped car would cost around a lakh of rupees or so. The stolen car was then fitted with these refurbished parts from the damaged insurance cars and sold at a rate lower than market price,” said assistant police inspector Ganesh Mane, who went to various states to make the arrests.

The first to be arrested, in January, was Singh. The second and third to be arrested were Marwa and Khanna, followed by Deshmukh and then Shaikh, according to police.

Marwa and Khanna were arrested on October 24 when the police tracked them to Chakan. After a chase of around 30km, the two were caught at the Moshi toll plaza. They were found to be the brains behind the scam.

Immediately afterwards, Deshmukh and Shaikh were arrested for helping them sell the manipulated vehicles.

Marwa bought the damaged insurance cars, Khanna stole the vehicles, and the two others helped them sell the manipulated vehicles. While Marwa has a history of 12 cases against him, Khanna has 38 previous cases registered against him.

Recovered stolen vehicles included four Innovas; and one each of the brands of Fortuner, Ertiga, Maruti Swift, Honda City, Toyota Etos, Alto, Nissan, Creta, Bolero Camper, according to the police. They have been reported missing in various states including Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi. They are all now in police custody.

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