CHENNAI: The curtains from an Instagram post of a suspect led the city police to a lodge in Triplicane, where a gang which went on a cell-phone-snatching spree in the city for the past four days, were holed up.
Before reaching there though, a special team had to comb through hours of footage from 42 CCTV cameras with little luck.
The clips, which had unclear images of the suspects were shared in a common WhatsApp group of special teams across the city, which was the first breakthrough.
A clip of one of the suspects along with a young girl, creating a ruckus at a fuel station in Chintadripet was shared, which revealed their identity. Police traced the Instagram account of the minor girl, who had run-ins with the police and found a selfie, in which the suspects were also present.
“A simple google search of lodges in the city showed images of rooms and we were able to zero down on the lodge by the colour of the curtain,” a senior police officer said.
From the CCTV clip at the fuel station, police got the registration number of the two-wheeler they were using and found that it was registered in Tiruttani. At the lodge in Triplicane, police found a youth who had given his Tiruttani address for check-in.
When the police team reached the lodge, they found all the suspects staying in a room, including the minor girl.
Royapettah police had formed a special team to trace the suspects when two mobile phone snatching incidents were reported, on June 15 and 19, when the gang targeted a woman and a retired government staff, near a school in Gopalapuram.
Investigations revealed that they had also struck in Abhiramapuram on June 18, after which the special team flung into action, combing CCTV footages.
Police secured seven smart phones, an iPad and two motorcycles from the suspects – M Vivek (26) of Teynampet, V Jegan (25), a platform dweller, S Jagadeesan (24) of Chidambaram and M Saravana Perumal (19) of Thoothukudi.
They were produced before magistrate and remanded in judicial custody. The girl was admitted to a government home.