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Jewellery heist, rooftop escape, and ‘real-life Spiderman’ stump police in Coimbatore | Chennai News

He broke through a wall, squeezed through a narrow opening and climbed three floors to gain entry into Jos Alukkas Jewellery in Coimbatore city during the early hours of Tuesday. He then changed clothes, and carefully picked out pieces of jewellery amounting to around 150 sovereigns, equivalent to three kilograms, before making his escape.

However, he left behind crucial clues and showed up in a series of CCTV cameras, leading the police to his identity, the recovery of the stolen goods, and the arrest of his wife. But when they arrived at his hideout on Wednesday night, he pulled off another dangerous feat, climbing 15 feet to the roof and making a narrow escape.

“We are dealing with a real-life Spiderman,” said Deputy Commissioner G Chandeesh of the Coimbatore City Police. He was referring to the suspect, identified as 24-year-old Vijayakumar from Devareddiyur near Harur in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district. Vijayakumar had at least four cases of burglary in his criminal record.

When policemen tried to recreate the method of his entry into the jewellery, they nearly suffered what could have been fatal falls, officers said. CCTV footage showed that he initially wore a veshti – a garment similar to a dhoti – during his daring entrance into the building. After climbing three floors through a narrow gap in the wall, he changed into track pants.

The burglar alarm at the store was not functioning on the day due to maintenance. This, and the deliberate way in which he moved around the store to methodically select ornaments of gold and diamond, weighing a total of 3.2 kg, has led the police to believe that he knew the layout of the store beforehand, and to suspect that an insider may have been involved.

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After getting out of the store, however, he left behind a shirt nearby, which also had a Pollachi-Coimbatore bus ticket in its pocket. He also left partial fingerprints on a CCTV camera at the jewellery store complex, presumably as he tried to point it away from his activities. These two clues gave police a starting point for their investigation.

Then, using the tools of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network Systems and the InterOperable Criminal Justice System, and analysing more than 350 CCTV clips, police traced Vijayakumar’s movements from the jewellery to the Coimbatore bus stand, and then to a friend’s house in Anamalai. He was identified, and the stolen goods were traced to his house and that of a relative’s in Palacode.

When police recovered the jewellery, they also took Vijayakumar’s wife, Narmada, into custody. Her arrest was registered on Thursday. “She had an active role in the crime from an early stage,” said Commissioner V Balakrishnan.

Balakrishnan said police suspect that he had help from someone else, too. “He entered (the store), and climbed to the third floor using the narrow path between the building and the elevation panel. We suspect he had help from a third party who had knowledge of the jewellery store, or someone familiar with this construction of a false wall and the narrow gap in between,” the Commissioner said.

Police were eventually able to also trace Vijayakumar to his hideout – a friend’s house in Anamalai – but by the time they reached there on Wednesday night, he had left. According to police, another police team had arrived at the spot a few hours earlier in connection with a bike theft case. Just as they were entering the house, he made a dramatic escape, climbing up to the 15-foot high roof, removing a single mud tile, and slipping away into the darkness.

“This rooftop escape, executed moments before police’s entry, was dangerous. After we took his wife into custody, she told us that he wouldn’t have made that dangerous escape if he had known that the police team had come for the bike theft case,” an officer said.

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