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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My name in today's paper :)

The following article appeared in today's hindustan Times - Cafe.
Monogram Thieves
Aalap Deboor, Hindustan Times, August 11, 2010

Whenever Aniket Pargaonkar (32) noticed luxury cars without their monograms, he assumed that they had been stolen. He knew that these logos made their way straight to the black market and were sold at a lesser rate than the originals. But last week, he was in for a rude shock. He discovered that the logo of his Tata Indica had been stolen. “They'd come after my car, an Indica! Usually, you’d think they'd go after a luxury car whose logos are expensive,” he says. High-segment cars such as the BMW, Skoda and Mercedes have routinely been targets of monogram theft in the city. Their rear and front logos are jemmied loose using screw drivers and pointed tools, and are then sold for cheaper on the black market, possibly back to the owners themselves. Of late, even Tata and Fiat cars have been spotted missing their monograms.
The police started looking into the matter when complaints from car owners began steadily increasing. They soon discovered that a number of adolescents and college students were behind the racket.A source from the Mumbai police said that college students pay street urchins anything between Rs 200-500 to remove the monograms, and sell it in the grey market for much higher. “These incidents have been reported the most in western suburbs, where there are many expensive cars. Most people just opt for a duplicate monogram as it costs much less,” the source said. In extreme cases, the police make arrests and take the accused to court.
Automobile mechanic Suresh Shirke had two kids come up to him a while back to try to sell him monograms of a Skoda Laura. What’s surprising, Shirke says, is that they belonged to affluent families and were doing this for easy money. “One was eight, the other 12. I informed the police and called their parents, and they were let off with a warning,” he says. Asked if he stocks the logos, Shirke says, “If I buy one from the black market, I’m part of the chain that sells these,” he adds.
Pargaonkar installed a new monogram from an authorised Tata showroom for Rs 60. He didn’t lodge a complaint since a new one was priced so low. “An original monogram cost me Rs 60, I wonder how much the thief would have made for stealing mine and selling it on the grey market!” Pargaonkar says.

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