Fortyfive-year-old Anil Chauhan began as an auto-rickshaw driver in Khanpur locality of South Delhi. That was 25 years ago. Today, he is not only the country’s most notorious car thief, but also a rich man having properties reportedly in several cities.
Chauhan was last week arrested by Guwahati police from the outskirts of the city along with an associate, Mamud Choudhury.
Chauhan was on police radar for several months. “There are several cases of car theft registered against him in different places, including in Delhi, Mumbai, Meghalaya and West Bengal,” N M A S F Haque, Joint Commissioner of Guwahati police, said.
Chauhan was arrested on Friday from Azara on the outskirts of Guwahati driving a Hyundai Eon. Police seized a handmade pistol, another 9-mm pistol, ammunition, four mobile phones and four ATM cards from him.
“He appears to have amassed a lot of property. We have located one palatial building in Mirza on the outskirts of Guwahati. Investigations are on to ascertain the other properties he owns in the city and other places,” Haque said.
Haque said Chauhan could be involved in more than a thousand cases of car theft.
Reports say he was declared a proclaimed offender by a court in Delhi and once carried a cash reward of Rs 25,000 on him.
Chauhan was reportedly arrested earlier on at least four occasions, once by Delhi Police and once by Meghayala Police. Each time, he obtained bail, police said.
A Class XII dropout, Chauhan began as an auto-rickshaw driver in the national capital. In his free time, he learnt to make duplicate keys, a skill that came in handy when he started stealing cars.
“In Delhi alone, he is believed to have stolen several hundred cars, many of which must have found their way to Northeast states,” Haque said.
Chauhan moved to the Northeast in 2005 where, police said, members of his gang posed as company executives to hire vehicles. The drivers would then be allegedly killed and the cars stolen. Police said Chauhan’s name and address were found on three alleged car thieves who were found dead on the outskirts of Guwahati some months ago.
“Chauhan is perhaps the most notorious car thief. He has been in the trade for the longest time. He began stealing vehicles in 1985 when the first Maruti cars hit Delhi’s streets. He then turned this crime into a full-fledged racket, spawning car thieves like Manoj Bakkarwala, who is currently lodged in jail. The last time we caught him in Delhi was in 2005. But the offence was bailable and he walked out. By then, we had busted his network in Delhi. That is when he left for the Northeast,” Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) K P S Malhotra said in Delhi.
could be involved in smuggling of animal parts,” Haque said.
According to Delhi Police, Chauhan’s gang stole vehicles from parking lots of Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida, which were then dispatched to other states with different number plates and colour.