Hiring for gangs to commit house break-ins is mostly conducted inside jails, with special preference for undertrials or convicts with no history of theft, said sources. The new entrants are often entrusted the responsibility of keeping a watch during the theft, said officials.
Even if a gang is arrested in a case, they are out on bail within a week. According to sources, conviction in a break-in case takes at least 8 to 10 years, during which the accused becomes more experienced in committing the crime.
By the time a new case can be registered, the accused gets bail in his previous cases, thus keeping the cycle going. Years later, when the case comes up for hearing, either the investigating officer has been transferred, or the documents submitted before the court are misplaced, leading to his acquittal.
Earlier, policemen on night patrol used to take preventive action against suspicious people under the section 41 (1) of the CrPC, which would help bring down the number of cases.
“We used to take down their details, along with fingerprints. It would not only help us maintain a record, but also help catch an accused involved in past cases. Now, the action has been stopped,” said a police officer, on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
To bring down the rising numbers, the property cell of the Mumbai crime branch has been asked to conduct a parallel probe into cases with property valuing more than Rs25 lakh along with the local police. The crime branch is also gathering details of habitual criminals involved in these cases and those who are released from prisons in the recent months.
“Cases of house break-ins need more attention. The detection units have been instructed to help out in these cases,” said Sadanand Date, joint commissioner of police, crime.
Dhananjay Kamlakar, joint commissioner of police, law and order, said, “All possible steps to curb these incidents will be taken and the night police patrol will be made more effective. If need be, a special squad will be formed.”