Minutes before a group of women pickpockets targeted an NRI woman on a Delhi Metro train, they were seen passing something to a Delhi Police constable at Chawri Bazar station.
The CCTV footage, discovered after the arrest of the pickpockets, has been scanned by the Delhi Police, but no charges have been levelled and no probe has been ordered against the cop yet.
The six women pickpockets were arrested on December 13 and jewellery worth Rs 22 lakh was recovered from them. The footage in which they are seen with the uniformed Delhi Police constable was recorded before they boarded the train towards Gurgaon, the route where the theft took place.
In at least two clips, the pickpockets are seen handing over something to the constable, who is seen hurriedly putting what he was given in his pocket. Both clips are available with HT.
Investigators from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) suspect collusion between the pickpockets and staff of the Delhi Police, but are hesitant to come on record. They also claim that there are many such clips and they have verbally informed senior police officials.
“According to the complainant, an NRI couple, they boarded the train going towards Gurgaon around 2pm on December 9 from New Delhi Railway Station. They reached Chattarpur at 3pm and noticed that the zip of the woman’s bag was open. They found that a small bag containing jewellery was missing. After receiving the complaint, we started scanning the footage to trace the movement of the gang. We noticed the gang with the Delhi Police official around 2pm at Chawri Bazar Metro station,” a CISF official said.
Sources in the CISF said the further investigations revealed that the gang usually boarded the Metro at Kirti Nagar station on the Dwarka line. They came to Chawri Bazar and boarded trains from there to commit theft.
“They targeted crowded Metro stations. They keep moving inside the train, looking for targets, and get down after two-three successful cases. They travel in groups and often carry a child with them,” the official said.
This year, between January and December 15, altogether 41 male and 438 female suspected pickpockets have been caught by the CISF.
In this case, it was a selfie clicked by the US-based NRI woman which led to the identification of the thieves. In the selfie, which the woman shared with the investigators, two suspected pickpockets were seen standing around her.
“We tracked their movement and circulated their images among our staff. On December 13, they came to the Chawri Bazar station again and were nabbed. They confessed to their involvement and helped us in recovering the stolen jewellery,” the official said.
Delhi Police officials admit that the investigation was done by the CISF, but they are not happy with the way the force functions.
“It is good that they caught the pickpockets, but they should inform the police before interrogating them. They have more staff and our strength is just 10% of them. So naturally, they have more resources.
“They have shared the footage with the investigating officer and all six women pickpockets were arrested by us. Most of the time, CISF handed over thieves to us, but without any complainant we could not arrest them,” said Jitendar Mani, DCP (Metro).
CISF said over 90% of the pickpockets caught in the Delhi Metro network are women. “Women pickpockets have been dominating the Delhi Metro premises. It has been found that they blend in the crowd by deploying a clever modus operandi of carrying a child. In most cases, it was found that the women who were apprehended after the act of stealing were the least suspicious,” a senior official said.
The rise in numbers of women pickpockets has been a challenge for security agencies in the Metro network. The CISF deploys its women personnel in plainclothes to keep a check on them, but the lack of complaints remains a problem.