Don't bother calling the Chandigarh police in case you catch hold of a thief attempting to barge into your or someone else's house; they may let him go scot-free.
On April 11, I reached Sector 51 at around 1.30am, but instead of going to my second-floor residence, went for a walk with my colleague.
When we returned at around 3am, I noticed a stranger outside my flat. I alerted my colleague and the watchman, and rushed upstairs to nab him. In the scuffle that ensued, he attempted to retaliate with a hammer but suffered a head injury instead. After getting hold of him, we called the police. The PCR arrived in five minutes; by this time, neighbours had also gathered.
The PCR called the team from the Sector-49 police post. We took the investigating officer to the flat, showed him the mangled lock and asked him to get the dog squad and forensic team, so that the fingerprints could be matched. But he said they had "other ways" of getting the thief to confess to the crime and it was not necessary to register a formal complaint, before taking the thief away.
Being mangled, the lock could not be opened with the key. So, we went to the police post to find out if breaking it open would hamper their investigation. To this, head constable Ramesh Kumar said it didn't matter.
Incidentally, last year too, a theft had taken place at my house; back then, my laptop and some cash were stolen.
On the morning of April 12, a news report 'Robbery bid at HT staffer's house foiled' was carried in our newspaper, after which we got a call from the SSP's office, asking if we had submitted a written complaint; we narrated the entire episode, including the part about the investigating officer telling us there was no need to do so.
At 12.45pm on Saturday, when I went to the Sector-49 police post to enquire about the case, I was in for a surprise. The thief had told the police that he was fighting with a girl near my flat in Sector 51, after which the chowkidar had intervened and hit him on the head.
"He was innocent. In fact, he provided information that helped us nab an offender. He has promised to help us catch more," said sub-inspector Balbir Singh. When asked why we, or one of my three neighbours, were not called for presenting our version, the sub-inspector had no reply.
So, whether he became an informer, or simply paid his way out, the thief is now a free, 'innocent' man. "Well done", Chandigarh police!