When Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) camera footage yielded only a partial number plate, the RCF police turned to their own e-challan records and identified an autorickshaw in which a senior citizen had forgotten her valuables worth Rs five lakh on Monday.
Interestingly, the e-challan system - where a challan is issued online to errant motorists with options to pay online as well - was first introduced by the Mumbai Traffic Police under the leadership of Vivek Phansalkar, who is currently the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai.
According to the RCF police, Lakshmi Chowdhari (61), who runs a food stall, had taken an autorickshaw to go home from HP Nagar in Chembur. She was carrying a bag containing cash and jewellery, which she placed in the space behind the passenger seat. When she got to her destination, she got off in a hurry as it was raining heavily, and forgot her back, only realising it after she entered her house. Chowdhary then rushed to the RCF police station.
"We immediately checked CCTV camera footage of the spot where she had alighted and spotted the autorickshaw. However, the footage was grainy due to the heavy rains and we could only make out the last three digits of the license plate, which were 707,” said senior police inspector Balasaheb Ghavate, RCF police station.
The police then had a brainwave and decided to consult their own records. They got in touch with the Mumbai Traffic Police and sought details of all vehicles with the numbers 707 in the number plate that had been issued e-challans till date.
"The e-challan machine records profiles of all motorists who have been penalised for traffic rules violations. After checking the details of several rickshaws, we found the one that Chowdhari had boarded,” Ghavate said.
The driver, Ram Singh, had by that time gone home to have lunch and had not even realised that the bag had been left behind in his vehicle. As a result, the police successfully recovered the bag from where it had been forgotten, and it was returned to Chowdhari on Tuesday evening.