Telangana police
Hyderabad policeIANS

Hyderabad Police have busted an international smartphone theft and smuggling gang and apprehended 31 accused including a Sudanese national.

The sleuths of Commissioner's Task Force, South, East and South-East Zone Teams along with local police seized 713 smartphones, an autorickshaw, two computers and one laptop, total worth Rs 2 crore.

According to S. Rashmi Perumal, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Commissioner's Task Force, Hyderabad, a spate of mobile phone snatchings has been seen in recent days in the process of which robberies, extortions and even a murder have taken place. While investigating this, it was discovered that a major criminal network has been operating in the city involving cell phone theft offenders, host of receivers of these stolen cell phones (both national and international) who are in the business of unlawful transport of these cell phones out of the country to sell them for illegal profits.

Police found that several stolen cell phones are being dismantled in niche markets, their IMEI numbers being changed and the resultant components such as mobile screens, cameras, and speakers are subsequently being used as replacement parts for existing damaged mobiles received from customers at a fraction of price in comparison to original company rates. A few weeks back, a similar major network of stolen cell phone racket was busted by the Task Force and several persons were arrested.

In the latest case, the Task Force arrested 15 offenders/snatchers, nine receivers and four mobile phone technicians who were unlocking stolen handsets and tampering with their IMEI numbers.

An international end receiver of stolen mobiles has also been arrested. He is identified as Mohamed Musa Hassan Gamaralanbia (26), who is into the phone accessories business. The Sudanese national was residing in the Nanal Nagar area in Hyderabad.

The foreign national was illegally exporting the cell phones via sea route.

The seized mobile phones relate to 27 cases booked at various police stations in Hyderabad. The accused cell phone offenders were committing thefts/extortion of cell phones in crowded areas like buses/bus stations, wine shops and public meetings.

All the accused (except one Sudanese national) are natives of Hyderabad and are common friends. With desires to lead a lavish life and finding their earnings insufficient, they collectively hatched a plan to commit theft/snatching of cell phones and further sell these stolen cell phones to receivers to earn money illegally.

The DCP has advised citizens to be vigilant when moving in crowded places and to report any snatching/theft incidents to the police at the earliest. She also cautioned mobile shop owners in the city to refrain from purchasing/selling of stolen cell phones or engaging in illegal activities such as tampering with IMEI numbers as strict legal action will be taken against them.