Children often put things in their mouths. Hence the warnings on small items that they pose a choking hazard to individuals under the age of five. While usually it is only toddlers that have a problem with swallowing tiny objects, there are situations when older children also have problems, like the seven-year-old girl in China who needed surgery to remove a nine pound hairball. Police in Mumbai, India have also been dealing with people swallowing items, but their creative solution involves fruit, rather than a scalpel.
Such innovative ideas in crime fighting have developed slowly in Mumbai, which has its fair share of crime. With a population of over 18 million, the capital city of Maharashtra is the largest urban area in all of India. Much of the criminal activity in the city formerly known as Bombay involves breaking and entering and petty theft. Gold jewelry is frequently the target of such crimes. Unfortunately for the criminals, residents often witness snatch and grabs and police officers patrolling the neighborhoods respond quickly.
This exact situation occurred last week when a 25-year-old man grabbed a 3-foot-long golden chain off the neck of a woman on the street. Officers saw the crime happen and began chasing the man. During the pursuit, he swallowed the chain, hoping to conceal his crime. Moments later, the police caught him. After denying he was guilty, officers took him to the hospital for x-rays, which revealed the chain in his stomach. After administering two enemas without success, doctors suggested surgery to retrieve the stolen jewelry.
After learning the surgery would cost over $500, police officers changed tactics and went to a local market. They purchased 48 bananas which they proceeded to feed to the criminal throughout the day. According to Senior Inspector Shankar Dhanavade, after consuming all the bananas, the perpetrator passed the necklace. Authorities made him retrieve the jewelry from the toilet and clean and disinfect it before returning it to its rightful owner. The thief faces up to three months in jail.
This fruitful approach to crime solving has been part of the Mumbai Police Department’s arsenal for over two years. In July 2015, another chain was retrieved from a criminal’s bowels after he was force-fed two dozen bananas and nine glasses of milk laced with laxatives. In April 2015, officers forced a criminal to eat over 60 bananas in order to dislodge a stolen chain containing a large pendant. In this earlier incident, the victim refused to accept the waste-covered chain and had a jeweler professionally clean the item before selling it to a new, unsuspecting owner. Buyer beware.