Sleuths of the Hyderabad Police Commissioner's South Zone Task Force on Monday apprehended an auto driver turned habitual house burglar, who was leading a lavish and luxurious life.
The police said that the accused, identified as 58-year-old Manthri Shankar was arrested after breaking into 11 houses under the jurisdiction of the Hyderabad and Rachakonda Commissionerates, over the last few months.
Manthri alias Shivanna, was an auto driver who was born and brought up in Chilkalaguda. The police said that he had been involved in more than 250 cases of house burglaries, and was one of the most wanted offenders in recent times.
"A known face among police personnel and other criminals, the offender frequently shifted his places of stay and avoided being recognised and being caught. He travelled extensively from one place to another along with his associate and never took the chance of staying at a single place for too many days," the police said in a press release.
The police also said that the accused was a master in picking locks, and it would take him only 3 seconds to break the locks of the houses he targeted.
Manthri was first arrested in a theft case when he was 20 years old in 1979. After his release, he was arrested again while trying to dispose of stolen property. This is when he came in contact with other criminals, and learnt to break locks using a rod.
The police said that Manthri and his associate Obaid would carry out the crimes, with Obaid dropping him on a motorcycle in the locality selected and keeping watch of the surroundings, while the main accused committed theft.
"This time, during his stay in Hyderabad, he selected densely populated areas in Old City and took several precautions. Obaid provided him shelter in the houses of his relatives, where he locked the main gates of the houses from inside and took shelter on the terrace of the buildings, watching the movement of police personnel," the press release stated.
"Generally, he committed offences in between 1 am and 4 am. Once he enters any locality, to avoid the police, he moves from one house to other house by crossing over compound walls and checking for locked houses. If he does not find locked houses in a lane, he crosses the road and moves to another lane in the locality. During this cross over, he takes precaution from being noticed, taking the cover of darkness and trees. After committing the crime, he waits over the terrace of the buildings till morning walkers come out, and moved out of the locality under their cover," the police said.
"He changed his attire according to the locality he selected for committing offences. Earlier, he committed offences by moving in a car and kept his attire to that of any other professional, by wearing a tie and shoes," the police added.
With the stolen property, the police said that he led a lavish life with several girlfriends, buying branded clothes and leading a luxurious life.
A father of six children, he had three wives, out of which one passed away, and was presently living with another woman.
The police recovered gold ornaments weighing 370 grams and net cash of Rs.3,20,000. They also seized a Bajaj Avenger worth about Rs 15 lakh, besides several tools used for breaking locks and doors.