Criminal gang trained monkeys to steal cash from unsuspecting victims

Police in India have arrested two men for training monkeys to steal cash and other items of value.

The Indian capital New Delhi has long had a problem with marauding gangs of monkeys attacking members of the public for food and more recently for valuables.

Now it has emerged that at least one criminal gang has been exploiting the mischievous little creatures and using them in street robberies.

In March, a local lawyer was robbed of 6,000 rupees (about £60) in the south of the city by three men who used monkeys to intimidate him as he was travelling in a rickshaw.

"When the victim was sitting in an autorickshaw, the men [got in with him] and asked one monkey to sit on the front seat and another at the back," a local police official said.

"They took the money the lawyer had in his wallet and fled with the monkeys."

A special task force was mobilised because, in the police officer’s words, a "strange case involving monkeys".

Two suspects were arrested at a bus stop on Thursday, April 8. Their monkey confederates were with them at the time, and have already been sent to an animal rescue centre.

Police are still hunting for a third suspect, named in local news reports as Ajay.

"A case has been registered under Indian Penal Code Sections 392 for robbery at Malviya Nagar police station," according to Delhi’s Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Atul Kumar Thakur.

"Relevant provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act have been added against the accused in the case."

Indian monkeys have become increasingly aggressive in recent years, and they have become even bolder during lockdown with fewer people are on the streets.

In one recent case, a monkey broke into a bank and trashed a cashpoint machine. Bank officials at first suspected human robbers but after inspecting surveillance footage a smaller, hairier type of suspect was revealed.

"The CCTV footage was examined later which unearthed the mischief of the primate," said one bank official.

A recent study revealed that monkeys in Bali will steal small personal items such as phones or jewellery, and hold them to "ransom" for food. The animals appear to know which are the most valuable items and will tend to target them.

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