Mobile phones being transported in a container were stolen, and the drivers of the vehicle were attacked at Melumalai in Shoolagiri in the early hours of Wednesday.

The Mi mobile phones, said to be worth ₹15 crore, were stolen by gang suspected to be from Madhya Pradesh that had carried out similar attacks elsewhere.

The consignment that originated from Sriperampudur Industrial Estate was crossing Shoolagiri here, when the truck was reportedly stopped on the highway at about 2 a.m. The drivers, Arun (26) and Kumar (29), were attacked and tied up by the gang. The consignment that included 15 cartons of 960 mobile phones each and a few more mobile phones were shifted to another vehicle. The gang fled the spot with the consignment. The drivers found help from the highway patrol, who alerted the district police.

Totally, 14,500 mobile phones are suspected to have been stolen, though the police are still awaiting a formal complaint from the company as of Wednesday evening. The container vehicle that belonged to DHL courier was retrieved from the spot.

Superintendent of Police Bandi Gangadhar told The Hindu that the truck was stopped by the gang that was believed to have followed the consignment from the point of origin. “The same modus operandi was followed in Nellore, Chittoor, Guntur and Warangal districts of Andhra Pradesh, where a gang would follow the vehicle and intercept it at a desolate spot. We are yet to receive a complaint from the company, and we have the accounts of the drivers. The courier company’s vehicle is, however, intact,” Mr.Gangadhar said.

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Earlier, Deputy Inspector General of Police Pradip Kumar and Mr. Gangadhar visited the spot.

Truck jacking incidents have occurred on the same stretch of the highway earlier. In 2015, a consignment carrying aluminium worth several crores was stolen and the driver was brutally murdered, sparking an inter-State strike by truckers demanding protection. Following the incident, truckers were issued an advisory to park only at designated lay-by along the highway, and not at desolate spots.



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