Interstate gang's target: Valuables in parked cars

Updated on Aug 28, 2012 10:51 AM IST

Think twice before leaving any valuables in your car, as chances are that these will be stolen before you return and the police would not be able to do anything about it. Besides, the damage caused to your vehicle will also cost you a bomb.

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Hindustan Times | By, Chandigarh

Think twice before leaving any valuables in your car, as chances are that these will be stolen before you return and the police would not be able to do anything about it. Besides, the damage caused to your vehicle will also cost you a bomb.

An interstate gang of thieves is out to steal goods by breaking the windowpanes of vehicles, indicated by the spurt in the incidents of vehicle break-ins. On an average, more than three cases a day have been reported to Chandigarh police during the last couple of days. The police claim the recent 10 incidents of car break-ins in Chandigarh and SAS Nagar were the handiwork of a gang who strikes and then moves to another city.

The Gang
The Chandigarh police believe that an interstate gang of thieves is active in the city. It struck first in SAS Nagar and has now shifted its base to Chandigarh. Analysing the incidents, a police officer says several gang members operate simultaneously, evident from the fact that three cars were damaged in a single lane within a short span in SAS Nagar three days back.

The police are also of the opinion that the gang is not from Chandigarh but has arrived in the city probably from Uttar Pradesh and may shift its operations to other areas in the coming days.
DSP (Crime) Satbir says: "These interstate gangs become active and strike in different cities. Intelligence inputs are being collected and efforts are being made to nab them."

Police inaction
A look at the police track record is enough to show that the menace of car break-in has received little or no attention over the years. The last time the police arrested a gang of thieves indulging in car break-in was in 2010. Since then, the police have nabbed petty thieves trying to get away with valuables lying in the car, but have not been able to arrest members of the organised gang indulging in the crime.

The gang busted by the Chandigarh police last was an interstate gang with some of its members from as far as Tamil Nadu and even Madhya Pradesh.

Savita Kohli, city resident whose car was damaged "The police should punish the miscreants severely, as such an act causes undue harassment to the residents. In fact, one cannot come out of the rude shock for days together. The police have not been able to arrest the persons even though the incidents have continued to rock the city."

Modus Operandi
Police officials say these thieves also use catapults to break the side windowpanes of cars before taking away the valuables. But the practice is not too common. Such thieves largely use iron rods and screwdrivers so as to camouflage the sound the shattering of glass would make. The thieves exert pressure with hands before breaking it.

The police officials add that 'auto cops' are hardly any deterrent, as the thieves are well versed with the gadgets and keep updating themselves. SP City Des Raj says: "In most of the cases where miscreants smash windowpanes and take away stuff, it is the handiwork of a gang. But the role of youngsters in the vicinity cannot be ruled out."

The Trend
The thieves first carry out a recce of the area to ensure that they are not being watched and also to see whether CCTV cameras are installed. Some of the thieves are clever enough to target young couples soon after they move out of the vehicle, knowing they would not return soon.

Most of the incidents take place at dating spots and markets during the daytime and residential areas at night. An increasing number of youngsters carrying laptops, tablets and mobile phones have contributed to the increase in the menace. Purses and handbags, garments are also included in the list of items being stolen from parked vehicles.

Strike rate
- On an average, a break-in is reported every five days.
Areas on the hit list
- Parking lots in markets of Sectors 8, 9, 10, 11, 17, 22, 35
- Cars parked outside houses targeted late at night or in wee hours.
Items stolen
- Laptop, cash, garments, purses
Common factor
- Miscreants strike in wee hours and mostly on cars

* Purse or laptop bags on car seats are an open invitation in parking lots
* Avoid parking cars in secluded places for long durations
* Cash should not be left behind in cars while going to banks
* Get alarms and 'auto cop' installed in cars parked outside homes

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