The robber who built his palace on wheels

The robber who built his palace on wheels
New Delhi, July 08: Wednesday late afternoon, a special task team of Railway Protection Force launched a surprise operation in Navi Mumbai. Their target was a 45-year-old man who walks with a limp. The cops swooped down just when their target was about to sell a few hundred kgs of spices to a shop near Vashi APMC, for around Rs 2 lakh. Meet Moyuddin Mehboob Sayyed, the ‘railway robber’ who built a fortune stealing from parcel carriages. Not just the cops, the underworld has also been looking for Sayyed, who owns several houses, and a private boat.

New Delhi, July 08: Wednesday late afternoon, a special task team of Railway Protection Force launched a surprise operation in Navi Mumbai. Their target was a 45-year-old man who walks with a limp.

The cops swooped down just when their target was about to sell a few hundred kgs of spices to a shop near Vashi APMC, for around Rs 2 lakh.

Meet Moyuddin Mehboob Sayyed, the ‘railway robber’ who built a fortune stealing from parcel carriages. Not just the cops, the underworld has also been looking for Sayyed, who owns several houses, and a private boat.

Moyuddin (below) and his 30-room mansion in his hometown Hospet in Karnataka

Over the past 20 years, Sayyed masterminded hundreds of train thefts, almost all from the parcel carriages. He is wanted in Lonavla, Pune, Thane, Kurla, Kalyan and CST, and has around 20 lads on his rolls, all highly trained in jumping from one compartment to another. Each of them earned Rs 10,000 for breaking into the goods rake, and throwing out parcels that had been identified earlier.

Sayyed also has on his rolls employees of the contractors to whom the Railways leased the coaches. He would get that insider to give him information on which parcels to steal. His men were instructed to throw the parcels out at certain designated spots. Railway Police officials say in 2010 alone, his gang stole goods worth crores.

Sayyed, however, inadvertently got on the wrong side of the Dawood gang. His boys stole several parcels from a Mumbai-bound train. Those parcels were smuggled goods that were being brought into the city by the Dawood gang, a police official said. A senior RPF official said, “It is an open secret that the underworld uses railway parcel facility extensively to bring in smuggled good. It’s the safest and best mode of transporting goods within the country. Moreover, there is no need to bribe several people along the way.”

Sayyed realised the enormity of his mistake, and went underground. But the lure of money was so strong, he couldn’t resist traveling to Vashi to fix a deal, where the cops were waiting.

The riches

Sayyed found his feet in the world of crime in his early 20s. Today, he owns a 60,000 sq ft mansion, which has 30 rooms, in his native Hospet, in Karnataka. He has a boat, which he has named Shahenshah.

An RPF official who has been tracking Sayyed for a long time, said, “He owns a house in Chirag Nagar, Ghatkopar, where his family lives. It’s a chawl, but all rooms in his house are fitted with air-conditions. He has purchased properties in Kurla and Chembur as well. He owns several cars and motorbikes. Most of his assets are in his wife Nasreen’s name.”

Sayyed also knows how to earn maximum returns on his investments. The officer said, “He’s leased out his properties in Chembur and Kurla, and that boat Shahenshah, he uses to steal oil from ships. We have information that his brothers and other relatives are also into crime.”

Sayyed’s clients

Grey markets, chor bazaars, dealers willing to buy stolen goods… these are the places and people Sayyed targets. He steals everything – spices, garments, furniture, two-wheelers, electronic items – you name it, Sayyed’s lads have picked it from trains. He was carrying spices in eight bags when he was caught in Vashi, P C Sinha, senior divisional security commissioner, Central Railway, said.

Once his boys throw out the parcels from the train, Sayyed would arrive at the spot in a huge pick-up truck, load the goods, and contact his clients.

The arrest

Previously, Sayyed was arrested in 2008, but managed to come out on bail. For the past many months, a special team formed by Railway Protection Force Inspector General Anil Sharma was trying to track him down. A tip-off came following a theft on Netravati Express a few weeks ago. The cops got a confirmation that Sayyed himself would be at Vashi to fix the deal.

Sinha said, “Our team was waiting at the spot. Sure enough, Sayyed arrived with eight bags.” An RPF official said, “Things turned difficult for him after he made enemies in the underworld by stealing their parcels. His arrest will open up a can of worms.”

Sub-Inspector Sandeep Ombase from RPF Panvel said, “This is the biggest catch for us. Sayyed is the kingpin in railway robbery.”

–Agencies