Crooked cooks caught in crafty trace

Published: April 16, 2012

The two elusive burglars worked as chefs and had struck at more than a dozen homes this year.

ISLAMABAD: The city police had no clue who was cooking up a string of burglaries in the Shalimar Police Station for a long time. The mysterious thieves, using a near identical modus operandi, had struck at more than a dozen places this year alone.

The Shalimar police had caught their scent in 2010, but could never capture them. Even a burglary at the house of a police officer’s in-laws failed to deliver the right push.

Luckily, the police found an unexpected assistant in the chase – a cell phone theft victim, who, using his own sources and contacts, tracked the elusive burglars using his stolen iPhone’s GPS capabilities.

The information led the Shalimar police to the thieves’ hideout in the outskirts of the city on Saturday, and the eventual arrest of the two men, one of whom was in possession of the stolen iPhone.

During initial investigations, police found that the two suspects used to work as chefs at different houses in Sector F-10. “They recently quit their jobs and were now only relying on burglaries for their income,” said a police official.

They used their jobs as cooks to case their victims’ houses. They used to cut the safety grills on windows or break through window panes to enter their targets’ houses at a selected time, added the cop.

He said the suspects were quite skillful at their cover jobs. “One of them knew many different recipes,” said the police official.

The police said the suspects always managed to win the confidence of their employers and that they made it a point never to rob their own employers. “They would accompany their employers to friends’ houses when possible and would find some excuse to make a few more visits to case the place thoroughly before finally striking,” a police official involved in the investigation said.

A few days ago, they both quit their jobs and rented a small house in the outskirts of the city, in Tarnol. They had already planned enough future robberies that would have lasted them a while, said the police.

During the initial investigation, the suspects, Muhammad Haleem, a resident of Plundri Azad Kashmir and Muhammad Saleem, a resident of Chak 172 Bahawal Nagar, confessed to 26 burglaries in the Shalimar Police Station area.

Based on information provided by the suspects, the police have recovered six LCDs, four video cameras, one Rolex watch worth Rs1.6 million, 17 cell phones, three laptops and cash from different places where they were concealed for fencing in the future.

The recovered valuables belonged to different complainants including Irfran Akhtar, Masood Aslam, Chaudhry Kamran, Zargham Dil Khan, Farhan Azeem, Saifullah Bangash, Asad Gulzar, and Malik Farhan Azam.

Police said further investigations were underway.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2012.

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