1987 Opera House heist

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1987 Opera House heist
Date 19 March 1987 (1987-03-19)
Time 2:15 pm IST
Location Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri & Sons Jewellers, Opera House, Mumbai, India
Coordinates 18°55′30″N 72°49′11″E / 18.92500°N 72.81972°E / 18.92500; 72.81972Coordinates: 18°55′30″N 72°49′11″E / 18.92500°N 72.81972°E / 18.92500; 72.81972
Also known as TBZ Opera House robbery
Participants not identified
Outcome Jewellery and cash totalling 3 to 3.5 million stolen

On 19 March 1987, a group posing as CBI officers executed the fake income tax investigation raid on the Opera House branch of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri & Sons Jewellers in Mumbai, India. This case has remained unsolved.

Background[edit]

The person posing himself as Mon Singh[1] or Mohan Singh[2] had placed a classified advertisement in the 17 March 1987 issue of The Times of India, asking for "Dynamic Graduates for Intelligence Officers Post and Security Officers Post". Applicants were told to report to the hotel Taj Intercontinental between 10 am and 5 pm the next day. He rented an office at Mittal Towers in Nariman Point to interview the candidates. Singh selected at least 26 candidates and asked them to report to the Taj the following day and were briefed about the 'mock raid' by Singh.[1][2]

They arrived at the Opera House branch of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri & Sons jewellers around 2:15 pm. Singh introduced himself to the owner, Pratap Zevari, and produced a "search warrant". He ordered the owners to turn off CCTV cameras and surrender a licensed revolver held on the premises. Singh and the fake contingent of officers did not allow any phone calls and took samples of ornaments for assessment of the quality of the gold. Singh picked "samples" of jewellery and had them sealed in polybags. Cash was also collected. After 45 minutes Singh asked two men to put the briefcases in the bus. He asked others to keep watch on the shop and left in the bus to 'supervise' another raid. After about an hour, the owners called the Mumbai Police.[1][2]

Investigation[edit]

Police investigation revealed that he booked room number 415 at The Taj on 17 March and he put an advertisement in the newspaper. Police found that Singh reached the hotel after leaving the jewellery shop and hired a taxi from there. The taxi dropped him at Vile Parle where he hired an auto.[1][2] He was last seen there and there was no trail. The police put out a nationwide alert. They sent a team to Kerala as his hotel record showed that he hailed from Trivandrum. A person named George Augustine Fernandes was arrested but later found that he was not involved. They also sent a team to Dubai but no headway reported.[2] The heist amount ranged from 30 to 35 Lakhs  ( 3 to 3.5 million).[1][2]

Popular culture[edit]

The 2013 Hindi film Special 26 and the 2018 Tamil film Thaanaa Serndha Koottam are inspired by this heist.[2][3] The Sialkot Saga, a book by Ashwin Sanghi also has a reference to this incident.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "2017 theft, police still in the dark:Goss from Mumbai's underbelly". Midday. Mumbai. 9 May 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Doctor, Vikram (22 February 2013). "Story of unsolved opera house burglary in Mumbai, Rs 30-L heist amused everyone by its slick execution". The Economic Times. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Thaana Serntha Kootam box office collection day 1: Suriya starrer takes an impressive start, earns this much". The Financial Express. 13 January 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2018. 
  4. ^ Sanghi, Ashwin (2016); The Sialkot Saga. westland ltd, ISBN 978-93-86036-10-0