The Capital, it seems, is like a ‘treasure island’ that criminals from neighbouring states love to ‘explore’.
Last year alone, the Delhi Police seized 26,643 vehicles — which is 25,000 more than those seized by the police forces of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Uttarakhand combined — used in various crimes, ranging from snatching to highway robberies in the Capital.
“While the seizures that the police forces of these five neighbouring states have made throughout 2010 total to a little over 1,500 vehicles, the Delhi Police seized 26,643 vehicles,” said a senior police officer, requesting anonymity.
Seized vehicles differ from vehicles stolen in Delhi. While the former are registered in other states and have been found to be used in criminal activity here, the latter are referred to as ‘recovered’ vehicles. The Delhi Police have only been able to recover a dismally low percentage — 15% — of vehicles stolen last year.
These vehicles, said the officer, were seized under Section 102-A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) that empowers local police to take possession of property suspected to have been used in committing crimes.
“A majority of these, as many as 60%, bore UP number plates and were either recovered from snatchers or auto-lifters. Vehicles registered in Haryana account for as many as 20%. The rest belong to Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Punjab (in descending order),” the officer said.
According to police, factors such as porous city borders as well as easily available number plates in Delhi were behind the unusually high number of seized vehicles.
“The cyber highway network, which will not only connect but also facilitate real-time interaction between officers of all ranks across six states in the immediate vicinity of the city, will go a long way in reducing this number; but the problem is that it has been in the pipeline
for a very long time. The biggest problem however, is the easy availability of number plates in the city,” said the officer.
Police said criminals take the advantage of the lack of an efficient database of vehicles in many cases.
“The criminals think of an imaginary number plate from any state and install it on the vehicle. Not only do the Delhi Police officers avoid fining them for petty traffic offences — to escape from formalities that involve a lot of paperwork — but since there’s no database that can be referred to, they can’t even recognise a vehicle that is involved in a murder even if it rams into a divider before their eyes,” the officer added.