Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kidnapping Falls Apart After Victim Calls Wife

City Crime Statistics
Jan. 1 – Jan. 9*
Theft (total)662252
Apartment burglaries1207
Car theft184
For the Record
Car accidents186
    a) killed22
    b) injured205
Public drunkenness3,696
    a) detained overnight444
Missing persons29
Bodies discovered115
*City police said statistics were missing for Jan. 5 due to technical problems.
Source: Moscow police

Investigators cracked what was likely the city's last kidnapping case of 2006 after the captors made the mistake of allowing their hostage to make a phone call, police said Wednesday.

Just days before the entire country shut down for the long New Year's holiday, three men kidnapped a 52-year-old Muscovite and whisked him to a hideout in the Moscow region, where they tried to force him to sign over ownership to his apartment near the Yugo-Zapadnaya metro station in southwestern Moscow, city police spokesman Igor Tsirulnikov said.

The kidnappers broke into the ground-floor apartment on Ochakovskoye Shosse on Dec. 25 by removing the bars on the window and climbing in, Tsirulnikov said. The apartment owner, whom police have not identified, was out shopping at the grocery store at the time.

When he returned, the three attacked him and, meeting fierce resistance, shot him once in the chest and neck with a rubber-pellet gun. The kidnappers then tied him up and drove him out to the Moscow region town of Roshal, where they threatened to kill him if he did not sign over ownership of the apartment to one of the kidnappers.

Things were going smoothly for the kidnappers until the victim asked the next day to call his common-law wife, Tsirulnikov said. While the kidnappers monitored the call, the man told his wife that he had been kidnapped and that under no circumstances should she notify the police -- with the silent understanding that she should do exactly the opposite, the police spokesman said. "She understood his words correctly and immediately went to the local police precinct," he said.

Investigators from the city police's organized crime department managed to locate the apartment where he was being held and raided the place Dec. 30, freeing the hostage and detaining two people who were guarding him, Tsirulnikov said. The three kidnappers were detained the following day, hours before New Year's Eve.

The five suspects, whose names are not being released due to an ongoing investigation, have been charged with kidnapping and face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.