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The Times of India

Bengaluru: Businessman steals car on pretext of test drive, arrested after 100 days

BENGALURU: After verifying more than 2,500 Internet Protocol (IP) addresses over 100 days provided by online advertisement platform OLX, Bengaluru police have arrested a 36-year-old businessman for allegedly driving away a compact SUV from an engineer on the pretext of test-driving it in January.

MG Venkatesh Naik, from Amruthanagar in the city and from Bagepalli in Chikkaballapura district, stole a Maruti Vitara Brezza belonging to Ravindra Elluri, 47, a resident of Coffee Board Layout and an engineer. Naik specializes in drain cleaning and sewage disposal.

Elluri had placed an advertisement to sell his car on OLX in January and had received five enquiries by January 30. On that day, Naik contacted Elluri at 7.03pm and expressed interest in purchasing the car.

"When Naik met Elluri, he sought to test-drive the car before purchasing. Elluri handed him the key of his car. Naik, however, never returned," the police said. Elluri approached Amruthahalli police and filed a cheating case against an unknown person as he did not know Naik's identity at the time of the incident.

Police initially tried to trace the suspect by tracking the mobile phone he had used to contact Elluri. Investigation revealed that Naik had used a phone he had stolen on the same day. The phone was stolen from Bagaluru.

Police approached OLX and obtained around 2,500 IP addresses used for searching cars in the city. "We verified all the IP addresses for three months. Our search was fruitful on May 10. Based on our findings from the investigation, we traced the vehicle to Dasarahalli main road and arrested Naik," said an investigating officer.

Naik, who has since confessed to his crime, has told the police that he stole the car to avoid humiliation. "He said he used to own a Vitara Brezza which he sold a few months ago. Since he had always visited his village near Bagepalli in his car, he thought it would be humiliating to go without it. He then saw the ad and decided to steal the car," a police officer said.

Police said Naik's wife was an unsuccessful candidate in the December 2020 gram panchayat elections. "Naik had spent lakhs of rupees during the election and had borrowed from friends. He sold his vehicle to clear some of his loans and felt humiliated to visit his village without a four-wheeler," police added. After stealing the car, he changed the number plate and used it for own use. A local court has remanded Naik in judicial custody.