Rajesh Dixit, a 42-year-old businessman from Vashi would get his car immobilised after parking it in his compound at night, fearing a theft attempt.
Immobilising a car ensures it cannot start even with the keys until the car owner mobilises it again by calling the company.
This proved useful when some unidentified men tried to drive away with his car a few months ago.
When they could not start the car, the thieves ran away with the music system and other accessories.
Over the last year, several citizens like Dixit are doing all it takes to protect their vehicles from theft.
They are even providing the police with crucial leads to trace their stolen cars. The spurt in motor vehicle theft in the western suburbs led to the formation of the Anti-Motor Vehicle Theft Squad in September 2008.
A police officer from the squad confirmed the rising trend of proactive victims of car theft approaching the police with vital information about the stolen vehicle.
“In certain cases, it was the keen eye that has helped a car owner trace his vehicle,” the officer said. “In others, past experiences made the victim aware of the menace and take action to prevent it.”
Dixit said the theft of his previous car taught him vital lessons. “Knowing that any vehicle would be vulnerable, I decided to immobilise my car every night to ensure such an incident does not take place again,” Dixit said.
While many vehicle owners have installed tracking and security systems that will help them keep tabs on the vehicle’s movements, many others are plain alert, police say.
“Complainants have become more vigilant and proactive,” Additional Commissioner of Police (Western Region), Amitabh Gupta told Hindustan Times.
“The number of cases in which the victim has approached us with information about the location of the stolen vehicle has risen.”
Although there are not statistics to establish this rise, Gupta said the police want the trend to continue given the rising cases of motor vehicle thefts.
Gupta and the zonal deputy commissioners of police in the western region have been holding meetings with car owners, briefing them on precautions to be taken.
“We have also encouraged car owners to make use of the latest technology in car security that makes it easier to trace stolen vehicles,” Gupta said.
Lost and found
Keen eye helped him locate his Toyota
Humayun Abu Bakr
Builder, spotted his stolen car at railway station and informed the police
Humayun Abu Bakr Chandivali, a builder from Seven Bungalows in Andheri (West), registered a first information report with the Versova police after his Toyota Fortuner went missing from his building compound on June 10.
The police started tracking the vehicle but did not make much progress.
On June 30, 58-year-old Chandivali visited the police and told them that his vehicle was standing in a parking lot near Mumbai Central railway station. Five days later, the police arrested the accused Imran Mullah (31) and recovered the vehicle.
“A few days after my vehicle went missing I had gone to Mumbai Central railway station for some work,” Chandivali said. “While I was walking towards the station, I saw a Fortuner that looked similar to my stolen vehicle. When I looked at it closely, I found that the vehicle had the same registration number as that of a Mercedes parked in our building.”
Chandivali started making enquiries and realised that the Fortuner he had seen was his vehicle with a duplicate number plate. “I informed the police and they managed to arrest the accused.”
Tracking device helped him find car
Businessman, gave cops exact location of his stolen car using a tracking device
Businessman Mahesh Malik was in Thailand for work, earlier this year, when his mother called him to tell him that his Mitsubishi Pajero was missing from their building premises in Lokhandwala, Andheri (West). He told his mother not to panic and asked her to register a complaint with the Amboli police. He then contacted his tracking company informing them about the theft.
After he returned to the country a few days later, he informed the Amboli police that his vehicle was in Thane and gave them the exact location of the car. The police laid a trap and managed to arrest one of the accused and recovered the car.
“In September last year, there was an unsuccessful attempt made to steal my Pajero,” Malik said. “The thieves could not pull it off because the duplicate key got stuck in the ignition and broke. That’s when I realised the urgency of the situation and took precaution.”
— Mohamed Thaver