Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar police on Monday arrested two members of a car theft gang who had been stealing cars from self-driving rental agencies. The police have also recovered nine stolen cars from them.

The accused have been identified as Sushant Sahu and R Tata Rao. One is a tea seller and the other one is an insurance agent.

As per reports, the duo rented cars from two different self-drive rental agencies in Bhubaneswar but never returned them. After stealing them, the duo mortgaged the cars and earned money worth lakhs of rupees from it.

The incident came to the fore after the owner of a rental agency lodged a complaint with the police.

Informing about the incident, Bhubaneswar Zone-5 ACP Goutam Kishan said, “The accused had taken nine vehicles on rent at different times since last November. They never returned those cars after taking them on rent. We found two accused involved in the crime. We interrogated them and found all the nine stolen vehicles from them.”

“We are verifying their criminal antecedents and trying to find out whether they had duped other agencies as well. They have been arrested and will be forwarded to the court soon,” Kishan said.

Police have reportedly recovered some papers belonging to a politician from the stolen cars, raising suspicion of a political link of the criminals.

Sources said there are many self-drive rental agencies recently cropped up in the Twin Cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. They are allegedly using cars with private registration numbers for commercial purposes.

The city police in November last year busted an inter-state racket allegedly involved in stealing cars for self-drive rental agencies in various parts of the country and arrested two persons from Manipur in this connection.

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The accused reportedly hailing from Jharkhand and West Bengal hired a Mahindra Thar and a Hyundai i20 from a self-drive car rental agency at Sampur in Bhubaneswar’s Bharatpur area on November 3. The duo had deposited the required documents and was supposed to return the two vehicles after two days, but stole them afterwards. The stolen vehicles were further sold to the gang’s members in Manipur and Meghalaya.

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