22-year-old Riya Luis Menezes of Vasai near Mumbai used to hire cars from various rental agencies and then sell them off after a while. Her luck ran out last week, says a report in Mumbai Mirror.
Menezes was the kingpin of a gang involved in the theft of dozens of cars across the western suburbs.
According to a remand order from the Borivli court, Menezes had stolen two cars from the Kasturba area. Police sources confirmed she had also stolen 12 cars from Mira Road, and seven from Powai.
“It was Menezes' boyfriend of over a year who first suggested she start stealing cars, and introduced her to her future business partners,” a police officer said. She would personally approach car rental agencies and tell them she required high-end vehicles such as Taveras, Skodas and Scorpios for business purposes.
“Menezes would claim she needed several cars simultaneously and would agree to pay the agencies Rs 35,000 for each car and Rs 12,000 for the drivers, per month. The agencies would jump at her offer. She would later call them to a hotel,” the officer added. To complete the illusion of living at the hotel, Menezes would arrive 10 minutes before the appointed time and be seen climbing down the hotel stairs to meet the car's drivers, so they would think she really lived there.
Menezes requested the drivers to hand over photocopies of the car's papers and sent them back. “To assuage any fears of the rental company, Menezes would occasionally bring the cars to them to show that they were intact. Then, one fine day, she would switch off her mobile phone so that the companies couldn't reach her,” the officer added. The cars would then be sold for between Rs two to three lakh to agents who would sell them off in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
After a complaint by one of the rental agencies to the Kasturba police, an alert was issued to other rental agencies. “Eventually, a woman matching her description came enquiring about renting cars at Borivli. She was to pick up the cars on Thursday, which is when we arrested her,” said the officer. Menezes has been charged under Section 420 (cheating) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal code and remanded in police custody till November 24.