In a dramatic hijack, a group of men waylaid a truck carrying a consignment of Apple iPhones near Vasant Kunj in south Delhi and attacked the driver with chilli powder. They drove the truck to Rangpur Pahadi some kilometres away, where they transferred 950 phones, worth Rs 2.5 crore, into their own van. Their efforts, however, proved a missed call when police tracked them down and recovered the booty.

The cops said on Thursday that truck driver Kalam Singh approached the Vasant Kunj (south) police station on Tuesday night with a tale of an audacious robbery. He said he had been driving with the phones from Okhla to Dwarka when someone threw a packet containing a red powder into his truck’s cabin. He presumed it to be a prank by children, but soon felt his eyes and skin smarting.

When he stopped to wash his hands, two men armed with knives accosted him and forced him inside the truck. Joined by two others, they drove towards the ridge area in Rangpur Pahadi. On the way they asked an associate to reach a desolate spot near the crematorium there.

When the group reached the rendezvous, Singh noticed a pick-up van waiting there. The youths got down and offloaded the iPhones into the van. At the Rajokri flyover some kilometers away, the men shoved the truck driver out and drove away. After registering a case of dacoity, a team led by ACP KP Kukrety and SHO Sanjay Sharma analyzed CCTV footage from cameras in the area.

“When scanning the CCTV footage of the three routes used by the hijackers, the truck was spotted on the road from Sector-E, Pocket-2, Vasant Kunj,” said Nupur Prasad, additional DCP (South). “Technical surveillance then helped us identify the culprits.” The film placed two former employees of the iPhone supplier in the area minutes before the robbery. Identified as Mehtab Alam (24) and Arman (22), the duo was detained and quizzed at length, during which they admitted to the crime.

Malkhan Singh, who provided drivers to the phone company, offered the additional information that two of his drivers, Bhola and Pradeep, had left their job a fortnight earlier. Police officers said Bhola and Pradeep planned the heist and roped in Alam and Arman to help them. The men planned to sell the phones to grey market operators in Karol Bagh.