Pickpockets are now preying on vulnerable commuters boarding compartments reserved for the handicapped on local trains.
On Tuesday, four minors were arrested for stealing the mobile phone of a man boarding the handicapped compartment of a Kalyan-bound local.
At around 5pm on Tuesday, a plainclothes officer of the Nirbhaya Squad - meant to safeguard women on trains - caught four minors, including a nine-year-old, two 11-year-olds and a 14-year-old, all residents of Mumbra, for theft at Thane station .
“They stole a phone worth Rs900 belonging to the complainant, Mumbra resident Dinesh Yadav, when he was boarding the crowded handicapped compartment of the Kalyan-bound local from platform 2,” said an officer of the Government Railway Police (GRP), Thane.
The minors have been handed over to the Thane GRP, who registered a case and are currently investigating the matter.
“The four kids were produced in Kalyan railway court and were sent to Bhiwandi remand home. We are now trying to find out whether the kids were being trained by a group or individual,” added the police official.
Ravinder Singal, commissioner of the Government Railway Police, has asked commuters to be alert. “Some handicapped commuters take the help of such minors to board the train, but later find their valuables missing. The handicapped compartment is an easy target for them.”
He added that in many cases, the minors are part of a gang that operate during rush hour and are monitored by adult handlers. Most commuters do not find the children suspicious and even if they do, the children often escape easily.
“While boarding local trains during peak hours when its crowded, commuters should take care of their belongings,” Singal said.