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Suspect in custody over Aravinda's house robbery:

Millions of rupees burnt on heroin


The remaining foreign currencies recovered from the burglar.

The feeling you get when your house is broken into in your absence is not pleasant.

That was the same feeling the legendary cricketer Aravinda de Silva felt on his return to the country in late October.

Aravinda, along with his wife returned to Sri Lanka on October 18 from an overseas visit and discovered that his house had been burgled in his absence. Almost everything was intact except the safe he places his currencies in.

It was truly shocking for him to find that about several types of foreign currencies including Sterling Pounds, Euros, Australian and US Dollars, Indian Rupees etc. along with local currencies in great numbers altogether amounting to Rs.4 million were missing.

The first thing he did was to lodge a complaint at the Kollupitiya Police Station which was close to his residence on Pedris Road. Following the complaint the police initiated an immediate inquiry and a special team visited the house to collect evidence.

The police learnt that the intruder had entered the compound from a parapet wall and then through an unlocked door in the rear of the house.

The burglar had then climbed to the upstairs where he had relieved the safe of its stacks of cash kept in envelopes and had crept out of the house.

Aravinda's house is guarded by 24-hour-operative Close Circuit Television cameras. But when they checked for visuals of the burglar it did not contain any footage of the intrusion. Instead, the CCTV camera was found being turned from its focal point.

With this, the police realised that the intruder had been a professional and tried not to leave behind any clues. The case was then ordered to be transferred to Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) for a full-scale investigation.


OIC Crimes IP Lalith Silogama

In the meantime, Colombo Fort Police made a recovery last week when they nabbed a person who was suspected to be the burglar of Aravinda de Silva's residence. Police found a bundle of foreign currency in his possession and further inquiries led to a confession that it was he who broke into the house.

It all happened like this. As part of the routine crime prevention program Fort Police OIC Chief Inspector Sumith Gunarathne deployed a special team in the surrounding areas of Fort Railway Station last week.

As a result officers clad in plain clothing scattered in several groups were monitoring the area. This team was led by Fort Police Crimes OIC Inspector Lalith Silogama who was also in civvies.

On Tuesday they noticed a strange man rushing out of a moving bus and running. On suspicion the undercover officers apprehended the man and searched him. They found three small sachets of Heroin in his right pocket and a bundle of foreign currency in his back pocket.

The man was immediately taken in for questioning. He told the police that the cash was sent to him by his sister in the Middle East.

But the officers felt suspicious as he had Sterling Pounds in his possession instead of any Middle Eastern currency.

Asked how he received the pounds, the suspect had said he stole a wallet from a male foreigner on the bus number 171.

But it was suspicious whether he was telling the absolute truth as hardly any foreigners would take this route. However, further interrogation made him confess that he had stolen it from the house of former Sri Lankan Skipper Aravinda de Silva.

The suspect confessing his act explained how he broke into Aravinda's house one evening in late October. He was a severe drug addict who depends on a heavy dosage of Heroin everyday, which cost him a fortune. To find that money the suspect had taken to stealing and breaking into houses that belong to the wealthy families.

As usual he was roaming in a posh neighbourhood in Colombo 3 on October 17th afternoon, when he had happened to notice a large house. He had waited for a few hours hiding in a dark corner of the neighbourhood monitoring the movements of the people in the area. When dusk fell the man got into action.


OIC Fort CI Sumith Gunaratne (extreme left) and the team of officers along with Aravinda de Silva.

Still he waited for sometime and decided to jump over the parapet wall of the house and enter the compound.

The time was around 10pm and he noticed a faint light inside the house, assuring him that the residents were not at home. When he was about to jump into the compound he had noticed a CCTV camera and had turned it to another direction.

Once in the compound the suspect had searched for possible entry points. He found a door which had not been locked and entered the house through that. The man told the police that he was inside the house for about two hours searching for goods.

He had moved about stealthily and found that in one of the rooms there were some children and women sleeping. He had then found a safe in one room and had opened it.

To his amazement the safe was also not locked and he found nothing but stacks of cash neatly stored in envelopes inside the safe.

One by one he had taken all the currency notes out of many envelopes and had concealed them in his undergarments and trouser. The stack was so much that he thought he found a fortune that would eradicate all his hard times in search of drugs.

Because of this he had not even stayed to look for other valuables such as jewellery but quietly made his exit out of the house.

He had then taken a trishaw and made his way to the Locket Lane in Maradana which is known for narcotics-related activities. He had purchased Heroin and consumed it and had spent several hours in a nearby spot before taking a train to Veyangoda. The suspect had arrived at his sister's house in Veyangoda the following morning and had concealed the stacks of cash in a secret location even without the knowledge of the latter.

Drug menace should be eradicated - Aravinda

Commenting on the house break-in, veteran Cricketer Aravinda de Silva told the Sunday Observer that he was away from the country for a few days with his wife. The children and the maids stayed at home along with a friendly couple from the UK.

The foreign currencies that were stolen from his safe had been accumulated from his numerous foreign trips throughout the years. He had segregated different currencies in envelopes and had neatly stored in the safe.

However it was not clear whether the safe was properly shut or not. He also had about 6,000 Sterling Pounds belonging to his friend in the safe.

Sincerely commending all the police officers who committed to solve his case De Silva expressed his deep concerns of establishing a proper mechanism in the country to eradicate drug menace.

He said that because of this Heroin problem many persons in the early age will turn out to be thieves and robbers that could be a heavy burden to the society, when they try to steal others’ goods to facilitate their own desires.

Since then he had been taking portions of stolen money from time to time and had got them converted to local currency.

He had exchanged bulks of cash at a time converting it to two to three lakhs in rupees and had spent about Rs.90, 000 to Rs. 100,000 per day for his Heroin consumption.

IP Silogama said that the suspect was a severe addict of Heroin since he was 17 years. Now the suspect aged 37 is a professional burglar who would break into houses to steal goods to spend for his addiction.

The police detectives who further interrogated the suspect made a startling recovery. The suspect identified as Mirihanage Saman Kumara as known as Maga Maruwa is reportedly the nephew of the late underworld mobster Soththi Upali.

The suspect whose father's younger brother was Soththi Upali, was living in Hete Watta (60 Watta) in Torrington.

He had been wanted in connection with over 20 major house break ins in Maradana, Kollupitiya, Narahenpita and Cinnamon Gardens areas.

The suspect is an Island Re-convicted Criminal who had spent several prison terms in the past decade.

According to police the suspect did not have any gravity about the money he stole.

His sole concern was to exchange all the foreign currency into Rupees where he could comfortably pay for his daily dose of narcotics.

He will be detained with orders for further investigations. OIC Fort Police CI Sumith Gunarathne, OIC Crimes IP Lalith Silogama and the team comprising Police Sergeant Leslie (28746), Police Constables Janaka (4832), Wasantha (3264), Ranjith (40446), Priyankara (70812) and Udara (68168) conducted the investigations under the instructions of DIG Colombo Range Gamini Mathurata, SSP Colombo Central Palitha Siriwardena with the assistance of Director CCD SP Roshan de Silva, ASP Nuwan Wedasinghe and ASP Upul Ariyaratne.

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