The gruesome serial blasts on July 13 last year, which left 27 dead and more than a 100 injured, where carried out using stolen scooters, used as carriers of bombs.
This pointed to a worrying trend in the city, which recorded a marked rise in vehicle thefts in 2011.
Statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that Maharashtra had the second highest number of stolen vehicles in the country in 2011, second to Uttar Pradesh. Of these, 25% vehicles were stolen from Mumbai. In all, 19,270 vehicles were stolen in the state, second to 21,363 in UP.
Of these, 4,702 vehicles were stolen from Mumbai, compared to 4,167 thefts in 2010, and 4,183 thefts in 2009.
Taking note of the trend, the Mumbai police recently started an anti-motor vehicle theft cell. “The cell was started to control the increasing number of vehicle thefts, detect such cases and prevent use of stolen vehicles for criminal activities,” said Nisar Tamboli, deputy commissioner of police and Mumbai police spokesperson.
Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner of police (crime) said: “We have four to five officers and at least 35 other policemen working on the cell. It has been instrumental in several detections, including busting gangs actively involved in vehicle thefts.”
With the help of the cell, the police recently arrested five men, who are allegedly members of an organised car theft syndicate. The operation was carried out after the crime branch’s anti-motor vehicle theft cell received inputs that two vehicles with seven men would reach a petrol pump in Sewri to carry out a robbery there.
“The accused confessed to having stolen parked vehicles from across the city, including the vehicles they were found driving. The special cell seized two Tata Indicas, two Hyundai Santros, two Hyundai Vernas, a Hyundai Accent and a Maruti Swift from them,” said a crime branch official.
At last 40 such gangs have been busted in the last three years.