Sridevi stole our hearts. But some among the masses joining her funeral procession yesterday claiming to be the late actress’ fans, stole our purses! Yes, it was a repeat of the crime that happened outside Mannat at Land’s End in Bandra last November when Shah Rukh Khan fans gathered for his birthday darshan realised there were pickpockets in their midst. The Bandra Police received complaints of 13 mobiles being stolen then. It alerted them to the fact that emotional fans of Bollywood stars at crowded public events like this were easy victims for master pickpockets. And so yesterday, the Mumbai Police placed plainclothes officers among the hundreds of thousands gathered along the road to pay their last respects to Sridevi as her funeral cortege went from the Celebration Sports Club in Lokhandwala to Pawan Hans Cremation in Juhu.
The strategy paid off and the Mumbai Police was rewarded with the arrest of 13 notorious pickpockets who were wanted by several police stations but had been flying below the radar. The massive funeral procession tempted these deadly pickpockets to step out and do their thing. While fans wept as the truck bearing Sridevi’s mortal remains majestically went past, the pickpockets struck. But the policemen in mufti were waiting. And in a swift operation that was carried out from Lokhandwala to Juhu, the police arrest these wanted pickpockets. One more brazen than the rest actually had the audacity to target a Bollywood actress’ purse but was nabbed in the act. When the last rites had been performed and the crowds started to disperse, the police began receiving complaints from a number of people who had been relieved of cash, cell phones and other valuables. At least 40 such complaints came in. The police are in the process of recovering much of the stolen property from the 13 arrested pickpockets.