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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

This Durga Puja, burglars to strike it rich

Ravik Bhattacharya , Hindustan Times  Kolkata, October 04, 2013
First Published: 12:09 IST(4/10/2013) | Last Updated: 12:13 IST(4/10/2013)

If it rains, they win; if it doesn’t, they still win. Burglars are expecting a field day this festive season.

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If it pours, as it has been going on for the past few days, people sleep tight. Moreover, the sound of the rains masks the sound of sawing of iron grills and gates, making things easier for the burglars.

However, even if it doesn’t rain, people will go out for pandal-hopping.

Many residents also plan whole night outing leaving their flats and houses at the mercy of locks that are always a step behind the skills of the thieves.

“Sir, this is our season and we have a win-win situation. The downpour will muffle cutting grills and breaking locks. If there are no rains, families will be out in the pandals. The police, too, will focus on crowd management. We will have a field day in the lanes and bylanes,” Abani Sarkar (name changed), a veteran burglar in his forties, told HT on Thursday.

Sarkar then reeled off a few tricks of their trade. Nowadays, burglars are usually armed with phattas (sophisticated saws), gamcha (iron rod) and windowpane cutting stones. They usually hunt in teams comprising three to four members. Now, many thieves are increasingly using China-made small saws. These make lesser noise and cut smoothly through iron grills and rods.

For the thieves, the most vulnerable spot in an apartment is usually through the toilet window. Most of the time these are kept unlocked and it is often located at the back of the house. To make access easy, pipes inevitably run up to the toilets.

“There are unforeseen risks too. There have been instances when new pipes have collapsed under the weight of a frail thief. Unscrupulous promoters have become a big headache,” remarked Sarkar.

“One of the team members keeps a watch outside the house or building. Two of them sneak in through the bathroom while one watch the family members in sleep, while another picks up stuff like cellphones, laptops, jewellery etc. We also try and open almirahs sometimes, but never try our hands at lockers since they make too much noise,” Muhammed Rashid, another veteran told HT. “Sometimes, we spray chemicals that induce deep sleep. This helps us break open drawers and even safes. But these chemicals are expensive. The entire operation takes around 15 to 30 minutes. Team members mostly are high on drugs, which gives us confidence,” Rashid added.

The lower rung operatives sometimes carry knives or old worn out and mostly empty country-made pistols to scare family members if they wake up and resist.

Areas like Salt Lake, Kankurgachi, Tollygunj, Lake area, New Alipore and others where upper middle class families reside are primary targets during the season. Locality which hosts crowd puller pujas is also a target, since houses located behind and far away from a pandal are relatively unguarded.

In case of armed robbery, team members go up to six or seven. They come on motorbikes, or even cars to get away fast.

Elaborate reconnaissance is done of the target. Members are armed with pistols and crude bombs. They break in as opposed to sneaking in by the lower rung burglars.

In case where huge sum of money or gold or other precious items are targeted, sophisticated gas cutters are used. This is especially true when showrooms are godowns are looted.

So, next time you go out of the house leaving it empty, you know which areas are to be doubly protected.


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