Nagpur: Rajendra Gabhale, 47, would pass off as any other guest at any lodge’s most humble dormitory accommodations.
In reality, Gabhale is allegedly a thief who stole fellow guests’ valuables from dormitory lockers. Gabhale, son of a woman sarpanch, may have committed such thefts in Ratnagiri, Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar and Nagpur. Once employed with a private firm, Gabhale’s penchant for leading a lavish lifestyle, especially star hotels and branded clothes, drove him to become a thief.

Lavish lifestyle drives private co staffer to take to stealing, target guests at dormitories

He was arrested by a team of senior inspector Vinod Patil and inspector Sandeep Buwa of Tehsil police station from his native Rahuri in Ahmednagar for stealing ₹1 lakh on January 14 from the locker of a fellow guest at a lodge near Geetanjali Talkies here. Around ₹52,000 cash was recovered from him.
As a private firm employee, Gabhale travelled frequently and stayed at lodges. He would check into dormitories with fake identity papers and furnished bogus mobile phone number. It was here that he closely observed the lax attitude of the guests stepping out for work leaving valuables behind in rickety lockers, said cops. Gabhale also learned to open lockers in dormitories without breaking locks.
Gabhale’s modus operandi also included destroying evidence and misleading police. He learnt the trick of leaving no trace of evidence from a friend who works with police department.
Gabhale, who was trapped by a team of naik constables Chetan Mate, Shambhusingh Kirar, constables Pankaj Nikam, Pankaj Bagde and Yashwant Dongre, would also wipe the surfaces he would touch with towel to leave no fingerprints.
When Tehsil police began probe into a theft complaint from a lodge near Geetanjali Talkies, they started checking CCTV footage of the dormitory. The footage showed Gabhale wiping the bed’s side grills with towel which made him a suspect. Further scrutiny showed Gabhale moving about at different places in vehicles or on foot to confuse police.
Following the leads, the cops reached a Sitabuldi hotel where Gabhale had checked in after leaving the dormitory with the stolen cash. But this time, he had provided original Aadhaar card and cell phone number at the hotel and was nabbed.

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