While 13,652 cars were stolen across the country in 2005, amounting to a loss of Rs 182.36 crore, by August this year 5,988 cars had been stolen in Delhi. In the last five years, nearly 17,541 vehicles were stolen in Mumbai.
It is one of the fastest growing industries in India. But chances of its successes finding mention in the country’s incredible growth story are rather slim.
There are numerous advantages that your usual car thief enjoys — an unparalleled sense of adventure, quick money, no entry-level cost and no obvious qualification. Moreover, even though the risks seem high, there is little chance that such mobile thievery would land one behind bars.
A senior Mumbai police official believes that stealing a car is one of the easiest crimes to commit, as the law does not clearly differentiate between a car-thief and a pickpocket.
He explains, “The maximum punishment one can get for stealing an automobile is three years. And even then convictions are hard to come by because we are seldom able to recover stolen vehicles and prove an auto lifter’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.”
According to data complied by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), the national recovery rate for stolen cars is a mere 26 per cent. So when Manish Agarwal, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), North West Delhi, recovered 36 cars after having arrested seven persons on December 8, he had reason to be happy.
There were about a hundred cases of car theft that had been reported in the area and a score of 36 out of 100, exclaims Agarwal, made “this the year’s highest recovery.”