Gautam Buddh Nagar police on Sunday recovered the camera and lens worth Rs 5 lakh that were robbed from a wildlife photographer in the Dhanauri Wetlands on August 22 and arrested three students involved in the act, officials said.
The accused are class 12 students and two of them are aged 18 while one in 19 and they live in adjoining Bulandshahr district, they said.
Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, Greater Noida, Vishal Pandey said the accused had overpowered wildlife photographer Narinder Kohli and looted his camera, lens and other accessories at gunpoint on August 22.
Although, a picture of the trio was captured in a car-mounted camera of the victim, the police officer said the case was challenging as the accused had their faces covered and the only substantial lead they had was their motorcycle that had "Jat" inscribed on its front in red and blue colours.
"The word ''Jat'' was written on their TVS Apache motorcycle and we checked around 150 such bikes in the region, got registration details checked, among others," ADCP Pandey told reporters.
Multiple police teams engaged in the case carried out searches in nearby villages and towns, including in neighbouring district, but the breakthrough in the high profile case came from Facebook.
"We were also monitoring social media, including Twitter and Facebook, among other platforms for a lead. We came across a picture on Facebook in which an Apache bike was seen with ''Jat'' inscribed on its front side in red and blue colours," ADCP Pandey said.
"That is how the culprits were identified and traced. The bike, the firearm used in the crime have been recovered while 100 per cent recovery has been ensured in the form of the looted items - the camera, its lens and accessories," he said.
The accused have been identified as Deepak, Pramod and Deependra.The motorcycle belongs to Deepak, the officer said.
The additional DCP said Kohli, who had gone to the Dhanauri Wetlands to work on a documentary along with another photographer, is a renowned artist and Police Commissioner Alok Singh was also monitoring the case.
A reward of Rs 25,000 was also announced leading to the arrest of the culprits in the wake of the incident, he added.
ADCP Pandey said the three students from Bulandshahr were visiting a friend of theirs in Dhanauri village for a birthday party and had already planned to rob someone while going back.
"They knew that photographers with expensive cameras come to the Dhanauri Wetlands and had planned to rob someone, hoping to make some easy and quick money," he said.
"Three of them were at the crime scene while their fourth partner was part of the planning but not present at the site," he added.