KARACHI: When Iftikhar Ahmed, the chief executive officer of iTech, closed his Boat Basin store at 6:30 pm on Saturday night, all was well.
On Monday morning, he reopened it to find Rs3 million worth of computers and other stock had been stolen from the shop.
The crime appears to have taken place on the twenty-seventh night of Ramazan, one of the holiest nights of the year in the Islamic calendar.
The iTech store, which is one of the three authorised Apple dealers in Karachi, is located at Clifton Centre in Boat Basin. Most shop owners left for their residences or mosques early on Saturday.
However, Queen Dental Clinic, which is adjacent to iTech, remained open till 9:30 pm. The burglary appears to have been orchestrated from the clinic. The perpetrator - presumably with more men in tow - broke the clinic’s lock and entered the premises. They took out two-and-a-half blocks of the wall shared by iTech and the clinic. They appeared to have climbed in through the hole in the wall and made away with enough Apple products to outfit their own store. Eighteen iPod Touch devices, eight MacBook Pro laptops, four MacBook Air laptops and three Mac Minis were among the items stolen. The loss, according to Ahmed, is estimated at Rs3 million.
“When I arrived to open my store at 10 am on Monday, the clinic’s door was open and all the lights were off. It looked weird for a moment but I didn’t know what had happened until I stepped into my own store. They left all the packing boxes on the floor because it was not possible to shift the laptops through the wall with all the wadding,” he added. The clinic’s owner, Abdul Wahab, appeared completely flustered. According to Wahab, just before Ramazan, a man who identified himself as Usman arrived at the clinic to introduce a client to Dr Bilal Abbasi.
Usman became a frequent visitor to the clinic, and introduced himself as a crime reporter of the Apna television network. The man used to spend hours at the clinic, and said that he keeps an eye on crimes in the vicinity from his prime spot.
Apna TV’s chief crime reporter Shahid Anjum denies that the channel has a cime reporter called Usman.
“We are searching through our patients’ record to locate the client (who introduced Usman) but it’s not easy to manually find one among more than 500 cards,” Wahab said. Wahab said that Usman was fair-skinned and was often found wryly smiling. He used to stammer and black pants and blue shirts appeared to be his favourite attire as he was never seen wearing clothes of any colour.
On Saturday, Usman had left the clinic before Abdul Wahab decided to close it. However, he was observed moving inside the Clifton Centre around midnight by security guard Ashiq Hussain. That was the last time anyone saw Usman, whose cell phone has been switched off for the past few days.
“I can’t believe that he can do such a thing but his disappearance is suspicious,” said Abdul Wahab. “Usman is slightly bulky and can’t pass through a small gap in the wall anyway. Only a 10 to 12-year-old child could make his way through this little space.”
The owner of an apparel store behind iTech heard a grinding sound around 12:30 am that continued intermittently for about 15 minutes. but didn’t pay heed.
The burglars seemed to have spent a considerable period of time taking out the laptops from their wrapping. They must have struck up an appetite, since biscuit wrappers and leftover food were spread on the floor.
The Boat Basin police station had not registered a case by the time of filing this report. According to Ahmed, the officers were unhelpful and also accused him of planning the robbery for insurance money.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2011.