House break-ins, theft and robbery — India’s richest urban precinct was most prone to these crimes in 2016. But the police department’s own records show that it solved less than 65% of them in the city’s southern-most tip.
Salsette Island, popularly known as SoBo, is home to affluent industrialists, powerful politicians and some of Mumbai’s most prominent personalities. Its property rates are high, and some of the richest Indians own homes in areas like Malabar Hill, Breach Candy, Altamount Road and Kemps Corner. On the other side are areas like Pydhonie, Nagpada, Agripada, Dongri and Byculla that were once home to Mumbai’s underworld gangs and dons like Karim Lala, Haji Mastan, Yusuf Patel, Arun Gawli and Dawood Ibrahim.
Ideally, areas with such a vast difference in the socio-economic profile of its residents keep the police on its toes. The department’s annual statistics , however, show they made arrests in only 2,790 cases of 4,385 filed in 2016 — just 64%.
Most common crimes
House break-ins, thefts, stolen motor vehicles and assault contributed most to crime in the region, but in all these cases, the police solved far fewer than those registered. Theft was the most common crime — 837 cases filed, only 269 solved. There were fewer house break-ins during the day (25 registered cases) when compared to at night (222 cases). “Most establishments at commercial hubs in Fort, Churchgate, Nariman Point and Crawford Market are closed, making it the best time for burglars to strike,” said a police officer. There has been rapid development, with residential buildings coming up in Mahalaxmi, Prabhadevi, Parel, Dadar and Worli — all fertile hunting grounds.
Crime in pockets
According to the police, most cases of thefts were happening in the crowded pockets of Pydhonie, Azad Maidan and LT Marg, where diamond merchants and jewellers flourish. These areas also have wholesale markets that stock in bulk frozen foods, fresh vegetables and electronics. The officer said crime was limited to pockets, even though the area has been home to some notorious gangsters.
Police officials said crime in the region has been controlled, mainly because the area has the Mantralaya and police headquarters. “There has been a decrease in cases registered, when compared to 2015. We have also upped patrolling,” said Pratap Dighavkar, additional commissioner of police (South Region). Citizens, too, said they were seeing the difference, just not enough. “What we lack is good street lighting. Societies should get CCTVs installed. Crime can be prevented much better when citizens also take part, said,” Indrani Malkani from the VCAN foundation, a citizens’ group.