Delhiites love to shop, but they do not always like to pay for it. With the proliferation of mall culture and swanky markets all over the city, the Delhi Police has a new breed of criminals to deal who are the hardest to notice, as they are the sneakiest of the lot.
Dressed from head to toe in branded outfits they look like avid shoppers but their main purpose of visit is getting their hands on the nearest thing available and getting away with it. Much later does a gullible salesperson realise that his outlet was a victim of shoplifting.
In last one year the Delhi Police caught around 127 shoplifters from different malls, big market complexes all over the city. On top of that they received around 500 PCR calls of thefts from shops during business hours.
Who are they?
According to the Delhi Police most of the people caught are college students. But most recently, police nabbed a number of middle-aged women who were arrested for shoplifting. The police said that though most of the people caught do it for fun, but there are others who have made a business out of shoplifting.
“College students mostly do it as a dare or for fun. They aim for small items like cosmetics, deodourants and clothes. But the women, who were caught in the recent case used to shoplift from jewellery stores, steal electronic items and other things. Shoplifting is a crime and they are all booked for theft,” said a senior police officer on the condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Why do most go scot-free?
Most of the time shoplifters have an easy escape as getting them arrested turns out to be more of a hassle than a preventive measure. For shopkeepers who have managed to get back their merchandise do not want to go through the legal hassles which come ‘gift wrapped’ with getting a shoplifter arrested.
“If we catch a shoplifter and get him arrested, the merchandise he was trying to steal is taken away as evidence. Then the next few months we have to spend on getting back the product. It is a cumbersome process and why go through it when we manage to recover the stolen product,” said Atul Bhargava, president, New Delhi Traders Association.
The most that shopkeeper can do if they are lucky enough to catch one of them is ensure that their security has a good look at them and not allow them inside the shop in future. “Most of the people we catch are college students. We cannot do much with them. We just publicly humiliate them and call their parents. Handing them over to police causes a lot of bad publicity for the showroom,” said Ranjit Pahwa, a shop owner in Greater Kailash-I.