Motor-vehicle thefts top the chart when it comes to petty crimes across the city. Analysis of crime data of the last two years (2012-13) by the Chandigarh Police reveals a shade above 6% increase in number of motor-vehicle thefts.
Of the 872 thefts in 2013, 319 vehicles were recovered, which is far better than 185 vehicles recovered in 2012. But the recovery rate still remains dismal.
The detailed data of thefts, burglaries and snatchings was analysed by UT inspector general of police (IGP) RP Upadhyaya and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Sukhchain Singh Gill during a recent crime meeting.
The development is significant as the Chandigarh Police are studying in detail the trends of crime to reorganise the beat system and to concentrate on areas that have a spurt in theft incidents. Last year 45,403 vehicles were registered in the city, taking the total number of registered vehicles so far to over 7 lakh.
The statistics reveal that substantial number of vehicles were stolen from the office and residential areas, while they were parked outside houses and even in the markets. Some of the vehicles were even well-equipped with electronic locks. Two-wheelers, including motorcycles and Honda Activa scooters, remained the hot favourite.
Giving details, Gill said, "We are studying the trends in detail and will chalk out a comprehensive plan. Areas such as Information Technology (IT) Park in Manimajra and Sector 22 witnessed maximum motor-vehicle thefts last year. We are working out modalities for coming out with designated parking in IT Park so that the number of thefts can be controlled."
Elaborating, the SSP said, "The IT Park is open from all sides and is isolated during evening.
Lighting also needs to be improved in the area. Thefts in the Sector-22 market, opposite bus stand in Sector 17, can be attributed to the huge movement of people due to proximity to the bus stand and commercial hub in Sectors 17 and 22."
A study of the data reveals that maximum theft cases were reported from the Sector-34 police station area in the last two years. In 2012, 139 motor-vehicle thefts were reported from the area and it increased to 169 in 2013.
The minimum number of thefts was reported from the Industrial Area in both years, though the number of thefts has witnessed an increase in 2013. In 2012, there were only six thefts reported from the Industrial Area which went up to 31 in 2013.
The number of thefts in areas that have educational institutes also witnessed a decline.
The vehicle-lifters managed to steal more vehicles from the area falling under Sector-36 police station in 2013 as compared to 2012.
There was decline in number of thefts in the southern sectors of the city. Areas falling under central and east police stations also witnessed a dip in vehicle thefts.
Under the Sector-19 police station, the number of thefts reported in 2013 was 41 as compared to 49 in 2012.
Similarly, from the Sector-26 police station area 14 less thefts were reported last year as compared to 56 in 2012. In area under the Sector-31 police station, the number of thefts was reduced to 38 last year from 57 in 2012.
Favourite Vehicles: Sports Utility Vehicles remain the hot favourite of thieves who generally change the number plates and chassis to sell them in other states.
Sector-34 police station
The Sector-34 police station leads with maximum motor-vehicle thefts reported from the area . Total 169 motor vehicles were lifted in 2013, of which 18 vehicles were picked up from Sector 34A and D, followed by 17 from Sector 46A and D. As many as 16 vehicles were lifted from Sector 34B and C.
Prominent areas covered: Sector 33, 34, 44, 45, Burail, 46 and 49.
Reason: A large number of people visit the area as it houses government and private offices, besides coaching institutes.
Manimajra police station
The Manimajra police station is second on the data chart with 114 thefts. Maximum of 42 vehicles was lifted from the IT Park, followed by 18 thefts from Modern Housing Complex.
Prominent areas covered: IT Park, commercial area of Manimajra, Motor Market and different colonies.
Reason: Lack of paid parking and poor lighting at IT Park, along with proximity to Kishangarh and Mauli Jagran.
Sector-17 police station
One of the busiest commercial area housing banks and government offices , it witnessed 110 vehicle thefts. Around 60 vehicles were lifted from Sector 22 alone.
Prominent areas covered: Sectors 16, 17, 22
Reason: People avoid paid parking areas and park their vehicles in secluded areas. Being the commercial hub, the area has a great footfall.
Thieves managed to whisk away more vehicles in 2013 from the area under Sector-36 police station. Last year 86 thefts were reported as against 60 in 2012. Maximum thefts were reported from the Sector-43 bus stand parking. Prominent areas covered are Sectors 43 and 35.
The Sector-39 police station that covers southern sectors such as Sectors 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41, along with Dadumajra and Maloya, witnessed a decrease in number of thefts. The thefts in 2012 were 115 against 81 last year.
Educational institutes, VIP area
The area under Sector-11 police station has a major concentration of educational institutions as it caters to Sectors 11, 14, 15, Punjab Engineering College (PEC) and Khuda Lahora village.
Maximum of 12 motor-vehicle thefts were reported from Sector 15, followed by PEC with 10 incidents. In all 49 motor-vehicle thefts were reported last year; a sharp decline from 2012's 79 thefts. The Sector-3 police station that covers VIP sectors such as Sectors 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10 and Punjab and Haryana high court witnessed maximum thefts in Sector 9 from where 18 vehicles were lifted this year. In all the number of thefts came down from 62 in 2012 to 38 last year.
How to keep your vehicle secure
Following are certain ways that should be followed to safeguard your vehicle
High-security number plates
These plates help in checking thefts of vehicles. The plates have a number of security features that make it hard to tamper with them. It includes superior grade reflective sheeting, hot-stamped chromium-based hologram, and security in script and snap lock.
Gear lock: It is the most effective and cheapest way to check four- wheeler thefts. It cost anywhere between Rs 1,000 and 1,500. An iron plate gets engaged with gear, following which the car cannot move. Even if one tries to cut the gear lock it takes at least four hours.
Central locking system: It ranges from Rs 3,000 to 4,500 and helps in preventing theft. Those with alarms are more useful.
Car tracking device:The device proves to be beneficial in case the vehicle is stolen. The device or chip costs Rs 25,000 to 30,000 which once installed in the vehicle can track its position.
Prominent cases cracked in 2013
October: A Sector-48-based auto mechanic Gursewak Singh was nabbed for indulging in vehicle thefts for maintaining his lavish lifestyle. The police recovered eight motorcycles and a Maruti car from him. Two youngsters Darshan and Sanjay of Mauli Complex were also nabbed for stealing vehicles for joy rides. The police recovered two cars, five motorcycles and a scooter from the duo. All accused used to steal vehicles with a master key and would drive them till its fuel got exhausted.
July: Police arrested 27-year-old Sarvervir Singh, resident of Sector 50, who hails from Khokhar village in Rupnagar district. He was a hotel management graduate from Australia and his family is well settled in the US. He used to visit a local car agency, understand the systems of the car and then identify people who had purchased a new vehicle from that agency. Later, he would go to the house of the buyers and say he was an engineer who had come to give a demo. To avoid meeting male family members, he preferred to visit the house in the afternoon and asked for the vehicle’s keys. In the process of performing a demo, he would exchange the spare original key of the vehicle with a fake key. At night, he would steal the vehicle. He had stolen two Fortuner SUVs, one each from Sectors 37 and 42.
June: Auto driver Rakesh Kumar alias Rinka (35), a resident of Sector 22, was arrested for lifting two-wheelers for joy rides. He would in fact leave the vehicle after its fuel got exhausted.
Total thefts 819 872
Cars stolen 280 285
2-wheelers stolen 598 558
Auto/others 12 29
Recovered 185 319
What makes it easy
1) No paid parking in some parts of commercial areas such as Sector 17, 34
2) Sometimes residents abandon their vehicles in secluded areas to avoid traffic jams which results in thefts
3) Maximum thefts during afternoon and late evening
4) Less police presence during early morning and late night hours
Recovery rate improves, but still dismal
Even though the UT cops are quick in registering theft cases in comparison to SAS Nagar and Panchkula, the recovery of vehicles is not that speedy. The police claim that owing to the city’s porous border, a stolen vehicle takes just about half an hour to move out of the city. Sometimes the complainant also delays in reporting. But the officers at the same time believe that they have been able to control thefts with the help of inter-city nakas, patrolling and nabbing of prominent vehicle lifter gangs.
RP Upadhyaya, UT IGP
For an effective crime control, we have to go through exact crime data. The data can be obtained only when cases are registered freely and no one is declined. Police focused on registering cases as a result the crime figures also went up. The data is being analysed to reorganise beat system and deployment of force across the city.Davesh Moudgil, dy mayor
Community parking should be developed after involving resident welfare associations. So many people park their cars outside their houses owing to fewer parking spaces across the city. Public participation should be done in decision-making process so that there are positive results. Jasjot Singh, a resident of Sector 27
The Chandigarh police is quick enough to register cases, but I don’t think the recovery of stolen vehicles is that fast. The police needs to have more pro-active approach when it comes to finding a stolen vehicle.
Nidhi Thakur, a resident of Sector 37
Measures need to be taken adequately by the authorities concerned and residents to ensure safety of vehicles. High-security number plates by the UT administration may help in at least tracking the car in case it is stolen.
Ajay Dogra, a resident of Panchkula
First of all we should ensure the safety of our vehicle than blaming anybody else. It is must to have central locking system which keeps your vehicle secure and sends an alarm. Gear lock is a must these days when we are leaving our vehicles outside our houses at night.