Police in Rajshahi took only nine hours to unravel a mysterious mugging, which turned out to have been staged by staffers of a Vivo mobile phone outlet to steal Tk 33 lakh.
The attempted theft came at a time when sales began to rise after the government withdrew curbs to contain Covid-19 outbreak, said Nibaran Chandra Barman, officer-in-charge of Boalia Police Station.
The OC revealed the details at a press briefing this noon.
Police have arrested three persons in a case filed last night in this connection. They are: Zafar Iqbal (35), manager of the Vivo store in Boalia of Rajshahi city; Mehedi Hasan Faisal (25) and Taijul Islam (24), both sales representatives of the Vivo outlet.
Two outsiders -- Ariful Islam, a former Vivo staffer, and Md Ohidul, an acquaintance of Taijul -- were also involved in the crime and are now on the run, police said.
THE BEST LAID PLANS
According to the police investigation so far, Taijul was the mastermind behind the staged mugging.
He had plotted with Faisal, and brought in former Vivo staffer Ariful, who had been involved in muggings earlier, and Ohidul to help them.
The Vivo store used to collect money from retailers and deposit it in a bank account of the distributor.
Sales in the store began to increase since the coronavirus restrictions were lifted in Rajshahi, said the OC quoting the arrestees.
In other times, the Vivo store barely reached sales receipts of Tk 1 crore, but witnessed a sale of Tk 1.48 crore within just two weeks.
This prompted the staffers to plot the crime, police said.
Police, however, also suspected Zafar Iqbal's involvement, since it was his motorcycle which was used in the crime.
Zafar, however, denied being involved.
Taijul too also did not corroborate Zafar's involvement.
HOW THE CRIME WAS ORCHESTRATED
Around 11:45am yesterday (Thursday), Faisal went out of the store to deposit Tk 33 lakh at a Dutch Bangla Bank branch in Boalia, carrying the money in a bag.
He was accompanied by Sohel, a staffer of the distributors, who was carrying Tk 4 lakh in a separate bag and was unaware of the plan.
When they walked some 100 yards towards the bank outlet, Taijul and Ariful drove a motorcycle towards them and snatched the bag from Faisal's hand, according to a CCTV footage collected by police.
Taijul was driving the motorcycle, while Ariful sat behind him and snatched the bag.
This was not their first attempt, according to police.
THE 9 HOURS
Police in the CCTV footage found that Faisal did not try to stop the muggers, which made them suspicious about him and detained him for quizzing yesterday.
Police initially found Zafar's and Faisal's statements to be inconsistent. The law enforcers then asked them about other staffers of the outlet and came to know about Taijul, who had recently become irregular at work citing coronavirus situation.
Police contacted Taijul and asked him to come to Boalia Police Station.
When Taijul went to the police station, police saw that his motorcycle was the same as the one the muggers had been seen on in the video footage.
Police also examined Taijul's mobile phone and found a photo where Faisal and Zafar Iqbal were seen counting the money at the store before sending the money to be deposited.
Police then quizzed Taijul over these and he finally confessed to the crime.
Meanwhile, police checked the motorcycle's registration number and found that it belonged to Zafar Iqbal, the Vivo outlet's manager.
Hence they suspected that it was his doing, but Zafar denied the accusation saying that Taijul had been using it for his commute working as a Vivo sales representative.
The police also also checked its citywide CCTV camera footage to track the muggers.
Based on Taijul's confession, police raided the house of Ohidul Islam at Kashiadanga area around 9:00pm last night and found the bag of money there. They recovered Tk 32 lakh from the bag.
Taijul told police that he gave Tk 1 lakh to Ariful after the mugging and kept the bag with rest of the money at Ohidul's house for sharing it among themselves later.
Ohidul and Ariful managed to escape the police raids.