“Whenever I venture out to buy vegetables from apni mandi or take an evening stroll, I make it a point to cover my gold chain or preferably remove it, keeping in mind the snatching incidents reported every other day,” says Kavita Jain, a resident of Sector 16 here.
Kavita and so many others have become so conscious of their valuables such as purse and gold ornaments whenever they move out in the city. The fear is not unfounded as the Chandigarh police have failed to control snatching incidents.
Out of the total snatchings 107 have been solved, the Chandigarh Police claim. The number of incidents has gone up as 2012 saw 172 snatchings.
The number of robbery incidents, which include snatching before attacking the victim, remained the same in 2012 and 2013. Total 65 cases each were reported in both years and 53 were worked out in 2013.
Maximum snatchings were reported from Sector 39, followed by Sector-17 and -34 police station areas.
From Sector-39 police station area, about 37 snatchings were reported and 26 incidents came to fore from the Sector-17 area.
The analysis of the data for the last two years reveals that snatchers continued to take away the peace of morning walkers. Elderly women were most targeted, besides people travelling on two-wheelers.
The sought-after items remained gold chains, earrings, purses and cell phones. However, the number of snatching cases is less as compared to 2011 which had 203 incidents.
DSP, law and order, Roshan Lal says, “Main reason behind snatching incidents is that it makes easy money. Youngsters roaming about idle and into drugs get into the petty crime. They zip away on city roads and target women and elderly who generally are not even able to note the registration number of vehicle, making it further difficult to nab the snatchers.”
Last year, only eight snatchings were reported from Sector-3 police station. Snatchings in area under Sector-11 police station went up from eight to 13. Even in area under Sector- 19 police station, the number increased to 13 in 2013 from nine snatchings in 2012.
The worst three
Sector-39 police station
In all 37 incidents each were reported in Sector-39 police station in last two years. In 2013, 10 cases each were reported from Sector 38 and 40. Police claim that the incidents occurred largely during early morning hours. At least three women in one week were targeted while on morning walk last year.
Sector-17 police station
The Sector-17 police station saw a jump in snatching incidents from nine in 2012 to 26 in 2013. In 2013, 12 snatchings were reported from Sector 22. In a couple of incidents in the Sector-17 plaza the miscreants managed to snatch away purses and bags on the pretext of asking way towards the market area. Within minutes the miscreants escaped with purses when the attention of the victim was diverted.
Sector-34 police station
In the Sector-34 police station area, 25 snatchings were reported in 2013 against 28 the previous year. Majority of snatchings took place in the residential areas of Sectors 33, 44 and 46.
In the first eight days of the new year, four snatching cases have been registered; at least 40 women were targeted in 2013
4 snatchings in January 2014
Jan 8: Gurdeep Kaur of Manimajra alleged that unidentified persons who were on a motorcycle sped away after snatching her bag, which contained Rs 300, a gold bangle and documents. The woman said she was standing near the gate of Rajeev Vihar, Manimajra, when the incident took place.
Jan 7: Poonam Kajal of Sector 15 alleged that two occupants of a motorcycle sped away after snatching her purse which contained Rs 300.
Jan 5: Ramesh Kumar of Dadumajra alleged that Deepak and Raju of Khuda Lahora, along with Vishu of Sector 20, thrashed and threatened him near Khuda Lahora bus stop. He said the trio escaped after snatching Rs 1,500 from him.
Jan 3: Daljit Kaur of Manimajra alleged that occupants of a motorcycle sped away after snatching her purse near her house. The purse contained a Nokia cell phone and Rs 5,000.
Cases in point last year
July: Senior citizen Saroj Bala of Sector 40 reported that her gold chain was snatched by two persons on a motorcycle went she was out for a morning walk. In another incident, Santosh Kapila (75) of Sector 23 was returning from a temple near her house around 10.30am. When two youngsters on motorcycle asked her the way to Sector 22 and in the process snatched away her gold chain.
August: Retired college lecturer Sudesh Bhalla of Sector 15 was robbed off her chain outside her house. Bhalla had returned from a temple along with her maid and asked her to open the lock of the house. A Sikh youth came and told her that someone was calling her. As the woman turned, the youth snatched her chain and fled on a motorcycle along with his accomplice.
Nov: The purse of Tulika Lipi Ghosh, a doctor of biochemistry department at PGIMER, was snatched around 9.15pm by an unidentified person who sped away on a motorcycle. The doctor had also got hurt as she was pushed by the biker.
Profiling the criminals
Snatchers are mostly people in the age group of 18 to 30 in search of easy money. They move around on motorcycles and cover the number plates with mud. The people have formed small gangs that target city residents. Before striking, they do a recce of the area and target morning walkers, especially elderly women or those going to temples or sitting outside their homes.
The snatchers even dare to enter houses and rob senior citizens of their valuables. They do not even cover their faces while carrying out the crime.
The reason the same gangs get active all over again is that the punishment is not stringent for snatchers. Snatching is considered a petty offence as a result the ones caught, manage to get bail and resume their operations.
Last year, the police nabbed different gangs of youngsters who used to indulge in snatching. Most of them were unemployed and educated only up to Classes 10 or 12 and were drug addicts. They use stolen two-wheelers, especially motorcycles and lightweight scooters.
Measures cops take
Special nakas put up with stress laid on checking two-wheelers
Police patrolling during early morning hours in snatching-prone areas
Cheetah squads formed to nab snatchers
Snatchings in 2013 193
Cases solved 107
Graph up from 2012 by 12%
Sukhchain Singh Gill, UT SSP
Stress is being laid to keep a check on the incidents of snatching across the city. We have done detailed mapping of the city to identify sensitive areas where snatchings incidents are quite common. More police patrolling and strengthening of beat system is being done to reduce the number of such incidents. The safety of women, especially senior citizens, is top priority.
Victims’accountsShakambari Rawat, 63
a senior citizen and mother-in-law of Congress councillor Gurbax Rawat
Like any other day I went for a morning walk with my two friends in Sector 40. I came back after about 30 minutes. I was walking towards my home, while my two walking mates were at a distance. As I reached 50 metres away from my house, a youngster with covered face came from behind and made attempts to snatch my chain.
The miscreant even tried to strangulate me. I resisted the attempt, following which only part of the chain was snatched, besides earrings were also taken away.
“Ever since the incident I have minimised wearing gold jewellery. I have in fact stopped going for morning walk. Even though the police were able to arrest the accused and get us compensation, the incident has left me a little cautious and I prefer to move out in a group.
Smiti Mishra, 45
works as a manager in a national bank
Then another boy of the same age group came and he too said “your money...your money” pointing towards the front of car. I knew that I’ve not dropped anything, so I just ignored them and continued with the parking. Suddenly, I noticed someone towards the car’s left door where I had put my bag on the seat as usual, and in front of my eyes one of the miscreants pulled my bag from the seat and ran away.
I instantly came out and shouted but both of them just disappeared. I called at 100. The police reached the spot in 10 minutes. I lodged an FIR. My bag contained Rs 28,000 in cash and important documents such as car registration certificate, driving licence, ATM cards.
Both guys were speaking in south Indian accent. After a few days, the police mailed me photographs of some suspects. Out of them I identified two miscreants. It actually gave me hope of getting my stuff back. But ultimately after one-and-a-half month a cop called to say that those youngsters were declared as absconding and the case was treated as closed.
Ever since the incident I have become guarded from strangers and careful while getting in and out of the car.”