With more cases of pickpocketing and chain-snatching being reported on the suburban network’s western line, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) decided to send its officers in plainclothes to catch offenders.
The result: 88 people have been arrested till July this year, almost as many as offenders were caught during the whole of 2015 — 93.
The RPF does not have prosecution powers under the Indian Penal Code, and can only work under the Railway Act.
However, senior officers said this won’t stop them from focussing more on controlling crimes,
especially after they noticed incidents of chain-snatching, bag-lifting and pickpocketing rising on the
“Andheri, Borivli and Nalasopara are the stations where most of these crimes take place. We have formed teams covering 10 stations where we noticed such crimes rising. Each team has five personnel,” said Anand Jha, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF.
The teams move around in plain clothes during peak hours to keep a watch on offenders, most likely to strike in crowded trains and stations.
RPF officials said they will also assist the Government Railway Police (GRP) to help bring down crimes against women, who are the main targets.
Jha said priority is being given to popularising the all-India RPF helpline 182. Exclusive RPF Mahila Vahini teams, all -women teams are also on the job.
Sources said the RPF will also use mobile phone applications and ‘M-Indicator’, which has been linked to the RPF helpline, to act quickly when there is a distress call from a woman commuter. Personnel are alerted within minutes through these apps, said RPF sources on condition of anonymity. The RPF has also formed WhatsApp groups of women commuters, senior RPF officials and women officials.