A gang of five armed man struck at a village in Vasai (west) in the early hours of Tuesday and took away jewellery and cash worth several lakhs from a house. The robbers took advantage of the chill in the air that had prompted the villagers to shut all doors and windows, said the police.
Wearing monkey caps, five men allegedly broke open the front door of Anton Paul Cerejo’s ground-plus-one home at Bhatwadi in Umelman, about 63 km from Mumbai. The octogenarian and his wife Agnes, 70, were sleeping on the ground floor at the time, while their son and his family were on the first floor.
In his statement to the police, Anton said he woke up to a loud thud around 2 am and saw five intruders armed with choppers and iron rods. Before Anton and Agnes could call their son, the robbers assaulted the couple, covered them with a blanket and bundled them into a room.
“One of the men stood guard at the door while the others opened the cupboard on the ground floor. They took away 290 grams of gold and Rs1 lakh from the house,” said Anton. Police sources said the exact extent of the loss will be ascertained after proper valuation.
The Palghar police said the crime was the handiwork of a professional gang as the thugs committed the robbery in just ten minutes. “The attackers apparently had done a recce of the area and knew that two elderly citizens lived on the ground floor,” said an officer from Vasai police station.
Agnes said one of the attackers grabbed her neck and kept asking about the valuables in the house. “We were in a shock as the main door had been broken and I could barely breathe. I thought I would choke to death.”
After the robbers fled the spot, Agnes informed her son, and the family called the police. The police said the elderly couple could not describe the raiders as they were wearing monkey caps. Also, the villagers had shut their doors and windows to escape from cold.
The cops are going through the footage from CCTV cameras installed in the neighborhood, hoping to find some clue. They have also roped in the dog squad to track the criminals.
“We have registered a case of armed robbery and break in under the Indian Penal Code and are investigating further,” said a senior official from Vasai police station.