Concerned by the increase in chain snatching instances in the city, police commissioner Satyapal Singh has instructed police stations to form dedicated squads to crack down on the crime.
Officials at the 93 police stations in the city have also been asked to register cases of robbery in chain snatching instances, instead of the earlier practice of invoking theft charges, informed Nisar Tamboli, deputy police commissioner and spokesperson for the city’s police force.
The maximum punishment for theft (under section 378 of the IPC) is three years imprisonment, or fine, or both. However, section 390, for robbery, provides for imprisonment that can be extended to 10 years and fine.
“If women in the city don’t feel safe, why are we here?” Singh said, adding: “I am not going to tolerate even one instance of chain snatching.” Singh also said that police stations had been directed to chalk out a strategy to tackle chain snatchers, who often function as syndicates.
“If necessary, we will start booking criminals under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) or invoke the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act (MPDA).”
Instances of chain snatching have been on the rise. Till August 31 this year, the Mumbai police registered 1,207 cases of chain snatching. For the same period last year, the police had registered 922 cases.
“The problem with chain snatching is that the detection rate is very low. With the new instructions, we are hoping that the crime will come under control,” said a senior official.
The commissioner has also directed police stations to form dedicated squads to deal with eve teasing, beginning with the Ganpati festivities.