The Delhi Metro’s characteristically overcrowded coaches seem to be a favourite among petty criminals in the Capital.
With the Delhi Police having registered more than 500 incidents of pickpocketing, molestation and theft reported both from Metro trains as well as stations since 2008, the last three years have seen Delhi's favourite mode of transport transform into an irresistible hotspot for small-time crooks.
“We registered 507 cases of petty crime taking place on Metro trains and stations since the beginning of 2008 to October 31 this year. More than 90% of these cases are those of theft,” said Rajan Bhagat, spokesperson, Delhi Police.
While 197 cases of petty crimes were reported in 2008, the next year saw 170 such cases. This year, more than 140 cases of petty crime were reported to the Delhi Police till October 31.
Surprisingly, only two cases of molestation of women — one in 2008 and the other in 2010 — have been registered.
This sorry state of affairs exists despite the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) seemingly adequate security infrastructure that consists of a centrally-monitored CCTV camera network, bag scanners and metal detectors at entry/exit points in addition to the deployment of more than 3,500 CISF personnel across 132 stations.
“The main problem is the rush. Despite the frequency of trains, passengers herd themselves into coaches already teeming with commuters.
Petty criminals take advantage of this and steal valuable items like wallet and handbags, cellphones or even laptop bags,” said a senior Delhi Police officer.
“In November 2009, a gang of female pickpockets from Maharashtra was apprehended from the Kashmere Gate Metro Station. They used to carry children inside the trains and would let them loose to play with unsuspecting passengers. As their target would be responding to the child’s pranks, the women would steal their valuables.”
“A similar gang is operating near Central Delhi Metro Station these days. It consists of a group of youngsters . They throw themselves at the crowd in busy stations and steal valuables,” the officer said.
Police said they had apprised the DMRC about the situation, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, the DMRC said it was open to suggestions and was trying to rectify the problem of overcrowding by introducing six-coach trains in early December.