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Chain-snatching incidents soar as gold prices rise

More and more petty criminals have started snatching gold chains, say police, who are looking at strategies to check the trend and make punishment more harsh.

mumbai Updated: Jun 20, 2012 01:13 IST
Mohamed Thaver
Mohamed Thaver
Hindustan Times

As gold prices skyrocket, it’s become dangerous for women to step out wearing gold jewellery, especially chains. On an average, five women across the city become victims of chain-snatchers on bikes every day, shows police data.

With gold prices rising by Rs10,000 per 10 gram over the period of one year, the number of chain-snatching incidents has also witnessed a corresponding rise. While 10 gm of gold cost Rs 19,665 in January 2011, it had risen to Rs 27,400 by December. Six months later, this June, it has touched Rs 30,295.

For almost a year now, the police have tried every trick in the book to keep a check on chain-snatching, but they appear to be fighting a losing battle.

Between January and May this year, the police have registered 743 cases of chain-snatching as compared to the 629 cases registered in the same period last year. That’s 114 more incidents.

While chain-snatching was not considered a major crime until two years ago, it is now becoming a priority. Recently, police commissioner Arup Patnaik talked about the need to prioritise and curb chain-snatching incidents as they target the layperson.

“Earlier, many of those arrested for chain-snatching were drug addicts. They were content getting between Rs2,000 and Rs 5,000 reselling a gold chain because gold prices were so much lower,” a police officer said, on condition of anonymity.

But with gold rates being as high as Rs30,000 per 10 gram, many miscreants involved in other petty crimes have started chain-snatching.

“That’s because the money in it has almost doubled. There have been cases when people going to or coming from a wedding hall have been robbed of jewellery worth Rs two lakh at one go,” the official said.

Srirang Nadougda, senior inspector, Bhandup police station, said: “Compared to other crimes such as robbing a house at night or robbing someone at gunpoint, chain-snatching is less risky. The quantum of punishment is less and the chances of getting caught are even lesser.”

“You don’t need any weapons. All you need is two people – one of whom is an adept driver – and a bike. Even if the accused are caught once, they return to chain-snatching after they get bail,” he added.

An officer from Mulund police station agreed. “It is easy for the accused to escape. We have increased patrols and are doing everything possible to contain the problem,” he said. “Nakabandis are not sufficient so we need to do something more. We have tried several measures such as awareness drives and putting up hoardings, but the problem continues.”

First Published: Jun 20, 2012 01:12 IST