x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dh1.5m heist left Dubai warehouse nearly empty, court told

Four men deny breaking into a warehouse and stealing electronics worth more than Dh1.5 million.

DUBAI // Five armed men broke into a warehouse and stole electronics worth more than Dh1.5 million, a court heard today.

Prosecutors told the Criminal Court that the men - four Indian nationals, AA, 30, MM, 25, MR, 32 and MA, 37, and a fifth man who remains on the run - broke into the warehouse of Emirates Gulf International in Al Qusais Industrial 4 late at night on August 4 this year.

They spent five hours ransacking the warehouse, from 1am to 6am, during which time they stole 30,626 items - or 80 per cent of the warehouse's contents - which included air conditioners, washing machines, televisions, cameras and DVD players. The value of their haul was put at Dh1.638 million.

A labourer at the company visited the warehouse the morning after the theft and found the locks to the warehouse had been changed. He called his boss WA, a 52-year-old Indian, who grew suspicious and called police.

When police arrived and broke open the new lock, they found the warehouse nearly empty. They tracked down the four men through workers and a driver who had helped them to load the stolen goods into a van and take them to Sharjah. The workers and driver were unaware the goods were stolen.

The driver, SA, 45-year-old Pakistani, testified that one of the men called him on Friday August 3 and asked him to load and move some items from a warehouse in Al Qusais to a villa in Sharjah in return for Dh400 for each of his two trips.

"There were about eight Bangladeshi workers loading the boxes, which contained electronics including vacuum machines," said the driver.

Three days later, the driver received a call from police and was informed that the items he moved to Sharjah were stolen. "I didn't know, they told me the warehouse belonged to them," he said.

Prosecutors said that when the four men were arrested electronics worth Dh450,000 were found in their possession. Police believe some of the unrecovered stolen electronics were sold to shops in Ajman.

The four men denied a charge of armed robbery.

The next hearing was scheduled for December 30.

salamir@thenational.ae