MUMBAI: In Goregaon two Chinese nationals who stole a diamond worth Rs 34 lakh from a gemstone expo on Monday were nabbed within three hours at the airport, where they were waiting for a flight to Hong Kong and Osaka via Delhi.
The nerve-wracking case, which saw unusually effective coordination among various agencies-from security heads to immigration and airport authorities-could be cracked only around midnight when the police, after a lengthy interrogation carried out with the help of a Mandarin interpreter, recovered the 5.4-carat diamond from a tiny shampoo bottle that had been packed into a small handbag.
Cellphone apps came in handy as the duo’s photographs and other details were quickly shared among the agencies involved. “The show is a very prestigious event for India. The diamond’s recovery was very important,” said Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) director general O P Singh.
The CISF was in charge of security at the India International Jewellery Show-2017, held at Bombay Exhibition Center in Goregaon from July 27-31. Entry to the venue was restricted. “An advanced online booking had to be made, with tickets per head being as high as Rs 9,000. The event was not for retailing,” said a senior police officer.
Around 3.45pm on Monday, the Gem Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) informed the CISF that one of the exhibitors, P Kirthilal and Co, had reported a diamond theft. It said two Chinese nationals (Jiang Changquing, 47, and Deng Xiaobo, 45), under the pretence of striking a deal, had, replaced an original diamond with a fake.
The council gave the CISF the duo’s details, which were then circulated on WhatsApp. A hunt was launched, but then CISF senior commandant Himanshu Pandey and his team found on CCTV footage that the Chinese men, one in a red shirt and the other in a full sleeve shirt and hat, had left the premises at 3.25pm. “The two spent nearly two hours at the stall from where they stole the diamond,” said additional CP Rajesh Pradhan.
The CISF was faced with two choices: to head for the duo’s hotel, or the airport. It chose the airport. “On the way, information on the duo was sent to DCP Supriya Yadav, who heads the foreigner regional registration office (FRRO), and the chief airport security officer (CASO), KN Tripathy, with a request to prevent the duo’s exit through immigration once they reached there,” said a CISF official.
Around 6.15pm, based on this information, immigration officials detected the Chinese duo’s arrival. At 7.45pm the flight was scheduled to depart. “The CISF and immigration team rushed to the security hold, where the duo was apprehended. The two didn’t have any check-in luggage. All they had were two small shaving kit-sized bags,” said Singh.
The two had by now changed into black T-shirts. The two were frisked and their handbags checked and put through X-ray machines but the diamond couldn’t be found. Over it was evident that the case was far. Also, the two didn’t speak English. They were taken to Vanrai police station, Goregaon (East), where a complaint of theft was filed by the diamond company.
The CISF, went through the expo venue’s CCTV footage again, suspecting the involvement of a third person. DCP Rathod said that after interrogating the two for seven hours, cops searched their luggage and recovered the diamond from a 5ml shampoo bottle. “Two magnifying glasses stolen from the same stall were also recovered, as were two fake diamonds.” The police said the duo picked up the diamond when an executive at the stall turned around to fetch a box.
“The accused had watched the stall for a long time, looking for the right opportunity to strike. The diamond swap took place between 3pm and 3.15pm,” said an officer. The Chinese consulate has been informed about the arrests. On Tuesday before a magistrate’s court the accused were produced.