The number of mobile phone thefts fell by 22.8% between January and April 2016 from the same period last year, according to figures released by the Government Railway Police (GRP). The GRP recorded 605 such cases between January and April this year, as against 784 cases in the corresponding period in 2015.
“The number of phone thefts has fallen for the first time since we began collecting statistics. We studied the pattern of thefts and identified the railway stations where the majority of them took place. We then increased patrolling there,” said Madhukar Pandey, GRP commissioner.
The statistics also revealed that while the overall number of thefts fell, two stretches – Mumbai Central to Mahim and Kalyan to Badlapur — saw more than twice the number of mobile phone thefts from the same period last year.
The Kalyan railway police registered 42 mobile phone theft cases in the first quarter of 2016 as against 18 cases in the same period last year. The Mumbai Central railway police registered 27 such cases as against 11 last year.
Mobile phone thefts have been a major problem, with GRP failing to curb their number. In 2015, mobile phones worth Rs4 crore were stolen. The GRP claims the number of juvenile phone thieves has increased.
Officials said that a cyber laboratory set up to track down phone thefts has also helped them give details of the lost phones to mobile service providers. The centralised mobile tracking lab has one officer and six constables.
Other steps that the GRP has taken include informing courts of the criminal record of the arrested accused for a stricter sentence. It has also conducted public awareness campaigns in schools and colleges and put up posters.
These measures have contributed to the fall in phone thefts, an official said.
The number of mobile phone thefts had risen steadily over the past five years, with 2,092 such cases registered in 2015, 1,518 in 2014, 1,045 in 2013, 784 in 2012 and 777 in 2011.
“The police stations which have seen a surge in phone thefts will analyse the patterns and devise better strategies to combat them,” added Pandey.