Seated inside his golden Honda City around 30 metres ahead of a busy traffic junction in Noida's Sector 34, 40-year-old Information Technology consultant Anup Tyagi was waiting for his wife, when four men sneaked in on October 29.
Waving their .315 bore country-made revolvers, the men began thumping the car's bonnet and asked Tyagi to get out and hand over the keys. The men snatched the car's keys, threatened his wife Kavita (name changed since the family fears reprisal from the criminals) who had returned to the car by then, and sped away. All the other motorists and pedestrians could do was gape in horror at what they had seen.
“It was frightening,” Tyagi admitted.
He “loved” his car, but more than the loss of the four-wheeler, “it was their audacity that was shocking,” he said.
“The police are active but they will have to neutralise criminals like car thieves and burglars,” Tyagi said.
Till October this year, 901 cars have been stolen in Noida.
A senior police officer, who requested anonymity, admitted, “We are taking strict measures to crack down on the car robbers’ gangs. Though this year’s figure is slightly less than that of 2008 (1,107), and 2007 (1, 201).”
Arvind Yadav (43), a supplier of construction goods materials, had parked his car near a shopping complex in Sector 20 on October 13 when he “lost” his blue Maruti 800. His battered, 10-year-old “family car” was stolen from a lane adjacent to the complex as he shopped “for soft toys”.
Chances are Yadav’s car was stolen “on demand” and from a potential buyer located in a far away city. Noida police’s deputy superintendent of police Rajiv Narayan Mishra told HT, “The local car lifters here have a nexus with bigger inter-state gangs that sell cars stolen in Noida across cities in Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, other parts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and states in the Northeast.”
“We have busted around 15-20 gang since last year and recovered around 150 cars," Mishra said.
“The accused revealed there is a great demand in grey markets for smaller cars in the Northeast and for luxury cars like Scorpio, Bolero and Safari in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.”
To counter the gangs, Mishra said, the police have identified 20-odd spots from where cars are “being stolen or robbed” and also the “probable time” when the crimes occur. “We have deployed teams of Leopards and Cheetahs — beat patrolmen on bikes — and men on foot at these vulnerable spots," he said.