CCTV captured this image of Tej Chitnis' car on the Maroondah Highway, Healesville, on the day he disappeared from his home in Burwood. Photo: Victoria Police

The coffee cup with the image of Tej Chitnis.
Jayant and Reva Chitnis at the MCG, holding coffee cups with an image of their missing son, Tej and his car.


Tej Chitnis was last seen on Wednesday 27 April 2016 at approximately 10am leaving his Burwood East address in his silver 2005 VW Golf Hatchback, Victorian rego TTF 517. He usually drives to the Blackburn Railway station, parks his car in a nearby street and catches public transport to University. Tej's vehicle was last seen travelling east on the Maroondah Highway, Healesville near the intersection of Green Street on 27 April about 11.34am.

Tej failed to return home at 4:00pm as usual and did not attend his father's birthday dinner that night. His VW Golf has also not been located. Police have concerns for Tej as this behaviour is out of character.

Tej was last seen wearing a t-shirt, jeans and black Adidas runners and is described as 170-175 cm tall, of Indian appearance (he was born in Australia to Indian parents), medium build, with short black hair.

If you have information that may assist police to locate Tej please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


'Hey Tej, it is just the boys ... we want you safe'

Workmates of a young man missing since last month have launched a social media plea for his return, saying they miss him and need him for their basketball team.

Tej Chitnis, 22, disappeared on April 27.

His friends at Officeworks, in Vermont South, say they have abandoned their basketball team until their teammate returns.

Police have also launched a fresh appeal with new footage of Mr Chitnis's missing silver Volkswagen Golf.

In a video message plea, the Officeworks mates remain hopeful for his return.

The men all play basketball together in Knox at the State Basketball Centre, but Dylan Snowden, who speaks first in the video, says the team is on hold while they wait for their centreman's return.

"Hey Tej, it is just the boys, we are not sure where you are, but we hope you are safe," Mr Snowden says in the video appeal.

Another Theva Kawefaretnam calls for Mr Chitnis to return to work and to his team.

"Hey man, it's Theva here, we want you back at work man, we want you back at basketball, want you suited up with us, buddy," Mr Kawefaretnam said.

Another, Seb Hindson, talks about missing watching US basketball team the Cleveland Cavaliers with Tej.

"You're missing Clevelands' unbeaten run in the NBA finals mate. You'll love it," he says.

Police say Mr Chitnis's 2005 VW Golf could provide a key clue to finding him.

Mr Chitnis was last seen by his family leaving his Burwood East address in his silver Golf.

He usually drives to the Blackburn Railway station, parks his car in a nearby street and catches public transport to Deakin University in Geelong where he studies Science/Biomedicine.

Mr Chitnis failed to return home at 4pm where a special birthday dinner was planned for his father, Jayant.

Police on Thursday released a still from CCTV showing Mr Chitnis's silver 2005 Volkswagen in Healesville.

Mr Chitnis's brother Rudra Chitnis told SBS that mobile phone data had helped provide a new clue in discovering his movements after he left home.

Mr Chitnis's signal data located his phone last in the Healesville area at just after 11.30am on Wednesday," his brother said.

"His Vodafone records show his mobile phone was switched off at 11.26am, but we found out on Saturday there was a ping from his phone near Healesville at 11.49am, so we're looking around there now," he said.

CCTV shows his car travelling east on the Maroondah Highway, Healesville, near Green Street, at 11.34am. His car has the number plate TTF 517.

Police are appealing to any drivers who were in the area at the time to check for dash camera footage that may have captured his vehicle.

Mr Snowden finds the missing car perplexing but remains hopeful of Mr Chitnis's return.

"It is so strange to not be able to find a car - that is the most baffling thing," Mr Snowden said.

"He could be in a different state or a different country," he said.

"All of my family and all of my close friends are worried for him, but we hope for something," he said.

Mr Snowden said he hoped the Facebook message might spur Mr Chitnis to make contact.

"I keep checking Facebook and checking comments to see if he makes contact," Mr Snowden said.

His family has mobilised search parties around Burwood, Geelong and Ocean Grove, but have now expanded this to Healesville and the Yarra Valley.

Mr Chitnis is described as having a medium build, dark hair and brown eyes.

His bank account has not been used since his disappearance.

Anyone with any information is urged to contact Forest Hill Police Station on 8847 3636 or Triple-0.


Missing student had not attended university since 2014 as mystery deepens

The parents of missing Burwood East man Tej Chitnis only recently discovered that their son had not attended classes at Deakin University for up to two years before he vanished on April 27.

It is understood that detectives investigating the disappearance of the popular 21-year-old had found he had been absent from a health science course at Deakin's Geelong campus since 2014.

Tej is believed to have planned to study medicine at Monash University, but had failed to graduate from Deakin and would not have been able to transfer.

It is not known how Mr Chitnis spent much of the the past two years, but his mother told SBS last week that her son had expressed uncertainty about his future.

"He told us he didn't know what to do in his life. We told him to take a break. You don't need to worry about your whole life when you are just 21," Mrs Chitnis told SBS. 

Tej was last seen driving his silver VW Golf from the family's Burwood East home on April 27 at about 10am.

He failed to return home that evening for an important family dinner to celebrate his father's birthday.

The 2005 VW Golf was last spotted in Healesville, after his mobile phone was switched off at 11.26am.

Tej's bank card has not been used since and an extensive search by police and up to 70 friends and family members in Healesville and several neighbouring towns has failed to turn up any trace.

On Mothers' Day, Reva Chitnis posted a heart-breaking message to her youngest son on social media.

"You can not imagine what it does to me not knowing where you are. It is most unlike you my darling to just walk away without a word and not think what it will do to us. We love you very much and we are very worried about you," Mrs Chitnis posted on facebook.

Yesterday, a Victoria Police spokeswoman declined to comment on the search for Tej, while his family did not respond to calls from Fairfax Media.

The 21-year-old held a part-time job at Officeworks in Vermont South and played basketball with his colleagues in a weekly competition based at the State Basketball Centre in Knox.

Last week, his devastated team-mates launched a plea for his return on social media.

"Hey man, it's Theva here, we want you back at work man, we want you back at basketball, want you suited up with us buddy," said close friend Theva Kawefaretnam.

Anyone with any information is urged to contact Forest Hill Police Station on 8847 3636 or triple-0.


Family worried sick about Burwood East student Tej Chitnis missing for two months

IT HAS now been two months since Burwood East man Tej Chitnis was last seen, and family are still worried sick not knowing where their beloved son is.

His mother, Reva, said their family and friends would not give up hope of finding Tej.

“Two months is a really long time to not know anything,” Ms Chitnis said.

“We’re still looking and we’re still worried sick.

“We’ve had no new information since the first couple of days.

“Tej’s friends are always coming over to check up on us, to have dinner with us, they’ve been great.

“We all just want to know Tej to be safe.”

Tej, 21, was last seen leaving the Chitnis family home on Bonview Cres, Burwood East about 10am on April 27, supposedly on his way into the city.

After Tej failed to return home for an important family dinner that evening, the Chitnis’s knew something was wrong.


Mobile phone records showed Tej’s mobile was last used in the Healseville area at 11.49am on April 27.

CCTV images that were later found also showed his car — a silver VW Golf with the registration number TTF 517 — on the Maroondah Highway in Healesville at about the same time, however there have been no other confirmed sightings of Tej or his car since.

Acting detective Senior Sergeant Graeme Savage, from the Box Hill police station, said the investigation was ongoing, and police had confirmed Tej had not been going to his Deakin University classes “for some time”.

“We confirmed that he hadn’t been going to university for some time, however he was still actively employed up until the time he went missing,” Sen-Sgt Savage said.

“We’re following a number of inquiries and we’re still hopeful of a positive outcome, however as it’s been almost two months since he was last seen we do have concerns for Tej’s wellbeing.

“If anyone has any information which may be able to help, we’d encourage them to contact Crimestoppers or the Box Hill Police Station.”

Call Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000 or Box Hill police station on 03 8892 3200 with information.


Parents scour Victoria for lost son: 'We just want him home. It's been too long for a time out'


Every weekend Reva Chitnis and husband Jayant drive around Victoria searching for their missing son.

Tej Chitnis, 21, was last seen by his family leaving his home in Burwood East on April 27. He had said he would be home in time for dinner, but never arrived.

Security camera footage later showed video of his car – a silver VW Golf with the registration number TTF 517 – driving through Healesville, in what police now describe as the last official sighting.

Despite being gone for more than two months and not touching his bank accounts or using his mobile phone, his family and police are confident he is alive.

Ms Chitnis says her son's disappearance could be explained by news he hadn't attended university "for some time".

While initially shocked by the news, the family was relieved – it gave a reason why he might have taken time away.

"Yes, we are Indian parents but we've never put pressure on the boys to say this or do that – that is what is so disappointing," Mrs Chitnis said.

"We would have said, 'OK, what do you want to do? Travel the world? Find your niche'?" 

His friends and colleagues also want him home, workmates posting a video on social media calling on him to get in touch with someone to let them know he is OK.

Working from the last official sighting, Ms Chitnis said family and friends spent weekends in Healesville and surrounding areas in their search.

She said the Healesville community and police had been supportive in their search for Tej – including help from a local Aboriginal elder to search for him in bushland.

They've even travelled to Phillip Island in their hunt.

Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Graeme Savage says police are still "very much" treating Tej's disappearance as a missing-persons case.

He said while the last confirmed sighting of Tej was in Healesville on the day he went missing, there had been other possible sightings police have been unable to confirm.

"We've had one at Berwick Railway Station and more recently in Melbourne at a McDonald's store," Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Savage said.

"They are all around the state. Some have more credibility than others."

Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Savage said there were no signs that Tej's disappearance was planned, nor that he had got into trouble – and he urged the young man to contact his family if he was able to.

He also asked members of the public to cast their minds back to when Tej first went missing, and if they remembered even the slightest thing, to contact police.

Tej's car, which hasn't been found, is an important piece of the puzzle, he says.

Where is Tej? A devastated father hopes solution lies in a coffee cup

By Carolyn Webb - The Age

It’s been three years since Tej Chitnis went missing and the pain hasn’t eased for his parents, Jayant and Reva.

"You just learn to live with it, every waking moment," Mr Chitnis says. "Especially when I’m alone, it troubles me a lot more. So I try and go out and meet people."


He says he puts on a face, to act normal. ‘‘Everyone says, ‘you guys are so brave’, but it’s got nothing to do with bravery.

"We have to get on with our lives but it’s always there ticking away at the back of your mind, not knowing."

Tej, 21, left his family’s Burwood East house, in Melbourne’s east, at 10am on April 27, 2016, saying he was headed to the city.

His car, a VW Golf hatchback with registration TTF 517, was last seen travelling east on the Maroondah Highway in

Healesville, near Green Street at 11.34am. His bank accounts have not been touched since that day.

Mr Chitnis says after three years, it’s hard to keep the case in the public eye, and so they have agreed to place his image on 5000 coffee cups sold at two MCG football games this weekend.

As part of National Missing Persons week (August 4 to 10), the Missing Person's Advocacy Network (MPAN) has arranged for the faces of eight long-term missing people to be printed on 100,000 biodegradable coffee cups distributed to cafes around Australia.

Of those, 20,000 will be sold at the MCG.


It’s hoped that spectators at Saturday’s Richmond versus Melbourne game and Sunday’s Collingwood and Gold Coast Suns match will pause to look at the person on the cup and even recognise them.

The coffee-cup initiative is an echo of a long-running campaign in the US, which has seen the faces and details of missing children printed on cartons of milk.

Mr Chitnis, 63, works as a chef at an MCG cafe and says footy crowds are "generally not busy, having a good time, and I think these things [on the cup] will register with them, when they’re having a cup of coffee.’’

A short piece of text on Tej’s cup, written by author Benjamin Law, tells how Tej loved hip-hop music, was a basketball player and loved making his mother breakfast. ‘‘It’s very easy to identify with,’’ Mr Chitnis said.

Tej’s family and friends have doorknocked, distributed posters, driven a billboard around and made media appeals, all without success.

Mr Chitnis said the Facebook page, Help Find Tej Chitnis sometimes generates leads – last week, someone reported seeing a car similar to Tej’s at Lyndhurst near Cranbourne, although it turned out not to be his.

‘‘We just want to keep it fresh in people’s eyes and I think think this [coffee

cups] is one way of doing it,’’ Mr Chitnis said.


‘‘Maybe something will come of it. We are living in hope.’’

Mr Chitnis admitted it was painful to see Tej’s image and he was on their minds ‘‘every waking moment’’.

Talking about him ‘‘reopens old wounds’’ but they were also desperate for new information.

Mr Chitnis, who has another son, Rudra, 29, said he believes Tej would never leave without contacting loved ones.


He said there were no signs of depression or withdrawal.

Tej had a good circle of friends and a part-time job at Officeworks.

Mr Chitnis called on anyone with information to contact the Facebook page or  Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

‘‘It will be someone from the community, the public, that’s going to be giving us information.’’