With 70 vehicles stolen every 24 hours on an average, motor thefts is one of the biggest crimes plaguing the national capital.
But on the nights before and after the Republic Day on January 26, when the city slept peacefully, knowing that the entire police force was guarding every nook and cranny of the city, figures on vehicle thefts broke all records.
As more than 70,000 personnel from Delhi Police and paramilitary forces guarded the city, thieves struck with audacity, stealing 181 vehicles within 48 hours.
This when the Delhi Police Chief, Y.S. Dadwal, promised tight security and alert beat policing the days before and during the Republic Day and had almost every man available on the job deployed in every area of the city.
Policemen working even in record rooms, reception, as additional staff in police stations, were all pulled out for field duty.
All big and local markets, metro stations, crowded bus stops, malls, and residential colonies were given a security cover. Yet vehicle thieves had a field day.
The maximum number of vehicles were stolen from various East Delhi localities during the 48 hours.
A car and two motorcycles were also stolen from New Delhi District that is provided the maximum security cover because it hosts the Republic Day parade.
Police claimed they had taken all measures to ensure that eight major, 27 motorised and over a 100 porous borders Delhi shares with neighbouring states were properly sealed and protected.
“We will ensure that no mishap takes place during the Republic Day celebrations. The borders are being properly checked and additional forces have been deployed in these areas,” Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Ajay Chadha had said before the Republic Day function.
Sukhbir Singh Chauhan, whose Mahindra Scorpio was stolen from outside his house in Pandav Nagar, said, “Republic Day is one of the most prestigious and important events of our country. There was an increase in beat policing in our area. But even that did not deter thieves from stealing our car.”
“If they cannot protect our vehicles, how they can protect us during such a time when terrorists are just looking for a chance to attack us?” he asked.