Social media leads police team to robber

Mumbai: A robbery accused wanted since April fled to Madhya Pradesh and switched off his phone but made the mistake of accessing his social media profile. Using a little known technique in crime investigation that does not depend on the target tagging their location, the Kurar police checked the location from which his social media page was last opened and arrested him on Friday.

According to the Kurar police, the accused has been identified as Mohsin Ansari, 19, a resident of the Shivaji Nagar area in Mumbai. The police said that on April 14 this year, Malad resident Chandni Ansari, 43, was waiting at a traffic light on her scooter near the Pathanwadi Bridge when Mohsin drew up alongside her on his own bike. Before she could realise what was happening, Mohsin grabbed her gold chain and sped away on his bike.

After the complaint was registered, the police identified Mohsin using Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) camera footage of the incident and his previous criminal record. That, however, was just half the battle won. The police team camped in Shivaji Nagar, where he stays with his family, for nearly a month in plain clothes, watching his house from morning till night, but to no avail. Mohsin seemed to have vanished into thin air. As his cell phone was switched off, cellular location mapping and Call Detail Records (CDR) analysis, too, was not an option.

With no other leads, the police started checking his social media pages. Initially, there was no clue to be gleaned on this front as well, as Mohsin did not post any updates or tag his location.

“There are certain techniques that enable law enforcement agencies to check where a particular social media page was last accessed from. Using this process, we confirmed that while our team was waiting for him in Shivaji Nagar, he was actually in Madhya Pradesh,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Somnath Gharge, Zone XII.

A team of personnel subsequently rushed to his last known location in Madhya Pradesh but could not find him anywhere. Turning back to the same technique, the police confirmed that he had just opened his social media page again, this time from Mumbra in the Thane district. A separate team was sent to Mumbra and, with the help of local informants, Mohsin was traced and apprehended on Friday.

“Inquiries have revealed that Mohsin was involved in another similar robbery committed earlier this year in the Kurar police’s jurisdiction, as well as one case registered with the Khar police. Further inquiries against him are underway,” Gharge said.

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