The accused, I Mohammed (33) of Parthasarathy Nagar in Washermenpet, is a divorcee and is addicted to liquor, the police said. He stole the vehicle to pledge it to buy liquor.
The incident happened on Sunday afternoon when the autorickshaw owner Duraikannu parked it in front of an eatery for lunch. As Duraikannu was eating biryani, he noticed a man trying to start the auto with cables.
Even as he raised an alarm, the thief managed to start the auto and speed away. Duraikannu rushed out and followed the vehicle on a two-wheeler that passed by.
However, the thief lost control of the vehicle while crossing a speed breaker in front of a church next to the Chintadripet police station and the autorickshaw toppled in the middle of the road. A car which was coming in the opposite direction was damaged in the incident.
Duraikannu, who reached the spot, secured and handed Mohammed over to the Chintradripet police. A case was registered under Section 379 (theft) of IPC and Mohammed was remanded in judicial custody.