Mobile phone thefts and robberies on Mumbai’s local trains saw an alarming rise this year, with commuters loosing as many as 794 phones worth a whooping Rs 140.51 lakh between January-April.
The railway police have claimed most of such crimes are being committed by juveniles.
Last year, the figures in the same period stood at 444 mobile phones worth Rs 77.26 lakh, revealed statistics collated by the railway police.
The Government Railway Police (GRP) revealed that while minors were mainly involved in stealing mobile phones during crowded hours, men and drug-addicts were behind most robberies.
The most common modus operandi adopted by robbers is hitting commuters travelling on the footboard with a stick. Following this, the surprised commuters let go of their valuables, giving the chance to the accused to flee with them.
“Juveniles mostly operate in groups of three or four so that even after getting caught, the phones are not recovered. After one of them steals the phone, he passes it on to the other to avoid getting caught with the stolen phone,” said Rupali Ambure, deputy commissioner of police, GRP.
According to the police, real gangs prefer employing children for the task as they are let off easily because they cannot be interrogated. “We have to take utmost care while dealing with a juvenile. We cannot interrogate him as we have to produce him before the child welfare committee (CWC) and leave him in children’s home within hours of the arrest unlike other criminals,” said a GRP officer, requesting anonymity.
As the further thread of the investigation cannot be reached, the GRP fails to find the gangs for whom they operate and the people to whom they hand over the stolen phones, officers said.
“All steps are being taken to counter rise in phone thefts. We have also started a mobile phone tracking unit, which started operating from 2015 from GRP headquarters,” said Ambure.
NEWS YOU CAN USE
In case of distress, you can call:
* 9833331111 GRP helpline number
* 1275/1311 RPF number
* 100 Mumbai police control room
# You can also reach the commissioner of GRP at 022-23759251 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
# Or you can upload complaints on www.facebook.com/mumbairailwaypolice
# Women can send their complaints on WhatsApp number - 9833312222