The next time you travel on a local train on the Mumbai suburban network, keep a close eye on your mobile phone. As many as 1,343 mobile handsets worth Rs 2.71 crore were stolen by November this year. The Government Railway Police (GRP) are now planning to set up a separate police unit, to track down these lost phones and tackle the growing menace.
The GRP may soon install a cyber laboratory, to keep records of stolen mobile handsets, and retrieve them. “At present, cases of mobile theft are registered and investigated by the railway police stations. We are now trying to streamline the process. Phone thefts will be probed by a separate team,” said Dr Ravinder Singal, GRP commissioner.
In 2013, 971 mobile phones worth Rs 1.37 crore were stolen on local trains in Mumbai. Most of the thefts took place on the Central Railway’s (CR) main and the harbour lines. Thane, Borivli and Kurla (harbour line) are stations which record many cases of phone theft, officials said.
The formation of a separate unit is expected to shed light on whether an organised syndicate is operating on the city’s local train network. It is also expected that the team will ensure the speedy detection of these cases, since the railway police often have to attend to other crimes.
The new unit will coordinate with separate teams in each police station, where an inspector-level officer will be supervising the cases that are registered.
“We are also requesting mobile companies to upload IMEI numbers of the lost phones on their websites, so those buying second-hand phones have the option of checking if the phone they purchased was reported to be stolen,” said Rupali Ambure, deputy commissioner of police, GRP (CR).
Admitting that tackling the crime is going to prove difficult, the GRP has also approached mobile phone companies to ask them for better security systems in the handsets.
“The matter needs a coordinated approach, and we have asked the companies if they could create a phone application or software for handsets, which could give the owner the option of making the phone unusable, once it is lost,” said Singal.