If it’s summer time in Mumbai, it is not just the mercury that peaks. The numbers of robberies, house break-ins and dacoities also touch annual highs.
An analysis of data available with the city police reveals that robberies and house break-ins are highest between March and July.
In 2006, 167 cases of robberies and 1,587 cases of house break-ins were reported between March and August, while the numbers for the remaining six months of the year together were 128 and 1,518 respectively.
The pattern continues in 2007 and 2008 with 133 robberies and 302 house break-ins reported in May 2007 alone.
In 2008, April had the highest number of robberies of the year (39) while house break-ins peaked in July with 294 cases reported.
Barely five months into 2009, the number of robberies has already touched 105 with 35 cases in April alone. There have already been 841 cases of house break-ins this year.
According to the police, with families travelling out of town for summer vacations, locked homes become exposed to such crimes. “It is usually people from the neighbourhood who commit these crimes,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (law and order) K L Prasad. “They often receive tip-offs from people like domestic helps, drivers, plumbers or painters.”
This is also that time of the year when there is little or no work on farms in rural areas and labourers head to the city in search of work.
While experts are reluctant to link crime rates to migrant labour, they do not rule it out as a plausible reason. What they do stress on is the glaring economic disparity in urban areas as a factor. Globalisation may have changed lifestyles in cities but it has also created a sense of dissatisfaction among those relatively untouched by it, they say.
“Growing unemployment or low-paying employment could be one of the reasons (for people resorting to crime),” said Sharit Bhowmik, professor and dean, school of management and labour studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Economist Abhay Pethe said it was necessary to bring about policy changes. “Rural areas should be more developed.”