To keep an eye on pickpocketing and stealing of cell phones during the festive celebrations at the famous Lalbaugcha Raja Mandal, policemen have been disguising themselves in plain clothes.
An officer talking on condition of anonymity said, “There are certain gangs that come to the city specifically during this time, as they know that most of these pandals are overcrowded. They are normally interested in picking pockets and stealing mobile phones.”
In 2009, the Kalachowkie police managed to bust an eight-member gang that had come to the city from Delhi.
The police had found 10 high-end mobile phones from the accused that belonged to the devotees.
The officer said, “Normally we have our staff in the premises who are dressed in civil clothes. They intermingle with the crowd to keep an eye on such elements.”
He added, “On certain occasions, the officers go in along with their informers who have information or know those who indulge in such activities.”
In addition to the pandals, there are groups that target people traveling in overcrowded trains especially on days when the immersion is to take place.
Senior inspector of Kurla Government Railway Police (GRP) Shivajirao Dhumal confirmed this trend.
“We have a tip off about a group from Bengal. Members of the group have come to the city have been targeting commuters in overcrowded trains,” Dhumal said.
He added, “Such groups come to Mumbai during festive seasons to take advantage of the overcrowding. These groups target trains and the famous pandals and indulge in petty crimes.”