1987 Opera House heist

On 19 March 1987, a group posing as Central Bureau of Investigation officers executed a fake raid on the Opera House branch of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri & Sons Jewellers in Bombay (present-day Mumbai), Maharashtra, India. The raid was led by an unknown man who had assembled the group by inviting the candidates for fake recruitment interview. The unknown man disappeared with the spoils of the raid. The case remains unsolved.

1987 Opera House heist
Date19 March 1987 (1987-03-19)
Time2:15 pm IST
LocationTribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri & Sons Jewellers, Opera House, Bombay, India
Coordinates18°55′30″N 72°49′11″E / 18.92500°N 72.81972°E / 18.92500; 72.81972
Also known asTBZ Opera House robbery
OutcomeJewellery and cash worth 2.3 to 3.5 million stolen

Heist edit

The person posing 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][3]

On 19 March, they arrived at the Opera House branch of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri & Sons Jewellers around 2:15 pm. Singh introduced himself to the owner, Pratap Zaveri, 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 Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) 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 Bombay Police.[1][2][3]

Investigation edit

Police investigation revealed that Singh booked room number 415 at the Taj on 17 March and he put an advertisement in the newspaper. Police found that he 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][3] 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 there but it was later found that he was not involved. They also sent a team to Dubai but no headway was reported.[2]

According to 1987 report, the cash of 3.75 lakh (US$4,700) and the jewellery worth about 20 lakh (US$25,000) was looted.[3] Other reports place the heist amount ranging from ₹30 lakh to 35 lakh (equivalent to 4.4 crore or US$550,000 in 2023). The case has remained unsolved.[1][2][4]

A year before, in October 1986, a similar advertisement was published in The Times of India and about 150 candidates had appeared at the hotel Taj for interview. The CBI had received the tip but the interviewer did not appear. The event was considered as a "dress rehearsal".[3]

Popular culture edit

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. Archived from the original on 23 March 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Doctor, Vikram. "Story of unsolved opera house burglary in Mumbai, Rs 30-L heist amused everyone by its slick execution". The Economic Times. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e Swami, Parthasarathi (15 April 1987). "Conman in CBI garb loots Bombay's leading jewellers Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri". India Today. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  4. ^ "Mumbai cops still clueless about a 1987 theft". NDTV.com. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ Sanghi, Ashwin (2016). The Sailkot Saga. Westland Ltd. ISBN 978-93-86036.