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Ex-Sri Lanka police spy bungles five-star liquor heist

ECONOMYNEXT – A retired spy from Sri Lanka’s premier intelligence unit pulled off what seemed a stunning theft of foreign liquor from a five-star hotel in Colombo, but was caught because of a careless mistake unworthy even of a rookie, officials said today.

The retired 63-year-old inspector from the State Intelligence Service (SIS) had a hearty meal at a Cinnamon Grand restaurant, took an unopened bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label and signed as an Australian guest of the hotel.

The man had precise intelligence about the guest he was impersonating. He did not raise any doubts in the minds of even the most seasoned hotel managers who could not see any discrepancy in the signature of the imposter.

However, the man was caught shortly afterwards as he had made the mistake of travelling in a three-wheel taxi to the best hotel address in town and even had an argument with security guards who initially refused to allow his smoke belching Bajaj three-wheeler near the lobby entrance. CCTV footage helped the authorities to trace the vehicle and the driver was cooperative.

"He was a very nice man sir, he first went to the police hospital and after sometime I dropped him off at his home at Athurugiriya," the taxi driver told police. "He even offered me a drink."

Police sources say they are investigating if the same officer had carried out similar stunts in the past.

It is a well-known secret that state intelligence apparatus either had their own men attached to deluxe hotels or had paid moles in most of the hotels across the country to make daily reports during the former regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

It was mandatory for all hotels to submit a list of guests, their nationalities and the purpose of their visit etc to the nearest police station on a weekly basis. The current police chief N. K. Illangakoon was the person who sent out circulars to police stations to implement this infringement of privacy.

Meek and submissive hotel owners complied with the requirement while a few hotel managers resisted. However, official sources said that the information of foreign guests, especially of businessmen and women, was also commercially exploited by some rouge elements.

Kollupitiya police are investigating the case. (Colombo/July27/2015)





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