Two civic staffers were among a gang of three men arrested for stealing and selling scooters in the Vasai-Virar region.
Around 25 two-wheelers have been seized from them. Complaints of thefts of two-wheelers were rising in the Vasai-Virar and Mira-Bhayander regions.
The Mira Bhayander Vasai Virar (MBVV) police commissionerate got down to track the thieves.
The crime unit of Kashimira examined closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of spots from where the scooters were stolen.
Cops tracked down Yogesh Mangela (36), a resident of Nehru Nagar in Bhayanader (west).
Mangela turned out to be an employee of the Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC), employed in the spraying of pesticides in the wards. He was the brainchild behind the theft of scooters.
Police said though he had got into stealing two-wheelers since 2017, his stealing picked up following a demand for two-wheelers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police said Mangela roped in his colleague Sachin Vaity, a resident of Arnala in Virar (west).
Sachin and his brother Kalpak were responsible for selling the scooters. “Though second-hand two-wheelers were selling at Rs 45,000-55,000 (with valid documents) since the lockdown, the brothers were selling it at Rs 30,000-40,000 (without any documents),” the police said.
Mangela would target scooters like ‘Activa’, ‘Dio’ and ‘Maestro’ parked outside railway stations and busy roads.
He would obtain duplicate keys of the scooters and scoot away on them. He would target well-maintained scooters so that he did not have to spend on repairing and maintenance before selling them.
Though the gang had initially targeted two scooters a month, the demand for the two-wheelers after the lockdown was relaxed last year, prompted them to steal as many vehicles as possible.
The accused have been booked under IPC sections 379 for theft. They have been remanded to police custody.
Police have seized 23 scooters and two motorbikes from them.
While several buyers have purchased stolen vehicles, they have been let off with a warning.