A 27-year-old engineer from Andhra Pradesh, Gudati Mahesh Nuthan Kumar, was arrested by the Cyberabad police in Hyderabad for allegedly stealing vehicles and reselling them. The man had managed to dupe several people, stealing their identification documents and using them to rent vehicles amounting to Rs 70 lakh. He went undetected for several months by removing the GPS tracker on the vehicles, police said.
The Shamshabad special operations team recovered six four-wheelers and one two-wheeler that the accused had rented and later resold over the span of one year. Police began an investigation based on a complaint filed by Zoomcar. The manager of Zoomcar accused a person of removing the GPS tracker on the vehicle and not returning the rented vehicle.
The accused, Mahesh joined hostels and gained the trust of his roommates and later stole their ID proofs such as driving licence and Aadhaar cards. He then used the stolen documents to hire vehicles on rent from companies such as Zoomcar, Drivezy, Revv, and Royal Brothers.
Mahesh evaded tracking of the stolen vehicles by removing the GPS devices from the vehicles. He also removed the original number plates and replaced them with fake numbers. The accused then sold these vehicles at cheap rates. Police said as many as 15 cases were booked against Mahesh since 2016 across Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal and Maharashtra. About nine cases were booked against Mahesh in 2021 alone.
Police said Mahesh completed his B.Tech Electrical and Electronics Engineering in 2016 and was working as a mobile technician at Malakpet where he committed his first crime. He was accused of mobile theft and was briefly arrested by the Malakpet police in 2016.
He was arrested again in 2018 for stealing a camera in Andhra Pradesh. The SR Nagar police in Hyderabad arrested Mahesh for three cases of theft in 2019, before he was released from jail in December that year.
In June 2020, Mahesh shared a room with one Nagendra Prasad at Panjagutta who was unaware of his roommateâ€™s past crimes. Mahesh stole Rs 1,60,000 from Prasad, besides his Aadhaar card, driving licence and even his luggage.
In July 2020, Mahesh rented a Royal Enfield bike from Royal Brothers in Bengaluru using Prasadâ€™s driving licence and ID proofs. He then took the vehicle to Visakhapatnam where he shared a room with two persons, Chaithanya and Ajay for the next two months. Mahesh then stole Rs 30,000 from Chaithanya, his Aadhaar card and driverâ€™s licence. He then left for Pune on the Royal Enfield and shared a room with one Satish for another two months. Mahesh stole Rs 1,80,000 from Satish, along with his original Aadhaar card and driver's licence. In all these instances, Mahesh swapped the photographs of the original owners of the documents with that of his own.
This time, Mahesh returned to Hyderabad, from where in October 2020, he used identification documents of Satish to rent a Volkswagen Polo from Zoomcar and left for Kerala.
Upon returning from Kerala, he turned to Olx website and gave advertisements for hiring drivers. He then collected the ID proofs of those who contacted him, and used them to steal more vehicles.
Police began actively tracking Mahesh from March 31 based on complaints filed by Zoomcar for stealing a Swift car. The police identified and finally traced Mahesh using CCTV footage.