A recent survey conducted in 100 housing societies across Mumbai and Thane, has shown a significant drop in crime under video surveillance. According to the study, in 2013, 40 cases of crime were registered in the societies that were part of the sample. After installing a network of CCTV cameras, the number reduced to 32 in the year 2014 and a remarkable drop was noticed in 2015 with only 18 crime cases being registered. Overall, there has been 22 per cent dip in crime from 2013 to 2015.
“Thanks to growing awareness, many housings societies are installing cameras as a precautionary measure. However we have noticed maximum crime in areas like Mulund, Kandivali and Charkop of Mumbai,” said Pramoud Rao, Managing Director of Zicom, the surveillance agency that conducted the survey. While burglary accounted for 30 per cent of crimes, robbery and chain snatching constituted 45 per cent. “Most of the cases either take place in the afternoon or at night after 11pm once after the security guard dozes off on duty. Also along with this we have noticed more crime on weekends,,” added Rao.
In 2012, residents of Ararat Tower in Amboli, Andheri West were frazzled with the rising incidents of burglary and thefts of stereo decks in cars. “It would happen right under the nose of the watchman. We couldn’t blame him entirely because it’s a huge compound with a garden and two entries, and it’s not possible for one person to monitor all of it. So, sometimes the robbers would sneak in through the rear entrance, and then scoot by jumping over the compound wall. It would happen late in the night so nobody could identify him,” said Prasad Sukhtankar, the society chairman, who felt 24/7 monitoring was required to curb the incidents. The society has now installed eight cameras with night vision in strategic locations like the building entrance, exit and parking lot. “Infact, I have downloaded an app that allows me to see the footage secured from all the cameras on my phone. I don’t need to be present in the colony to access it,” adds the 62-year-old. It has been almost 4 years, Ararat Tower has not reported a single instance of theft or robbery. Although the housing society has become a secure place, the street outside continues to see stray incidents of chain snatching and pickpocketing due to faulty streetlights. “We are in talks with the BMC and the local management committee to install surveillance cameras even at signals and chowks, because they are hotspots for petty crimes,” he says.
Sujit Sudhakaran, a youth member of Brahmand complex, Thane, says the signboard that CCTV cameras are installed itself proves as a deterrent. “There was a time when we had almost 150 cases of chain snatching every a year. in 2015, we saw only 30,” he says. However, the 23-year-old feels the efficacy of cameras is largely dependent upon how the surveillance system is set up and monitored. “You need to bring it to the attention of the police and act quick, only then is it effective.”
DCP PR Dighavkar(Zone-3) reveals that the 1384 CCTV cameras installed in the South Mumbai region have worked as an effective deterrent. “A lot of times, petty crimes are done using two-wheelers. Surveillance cameras come in handy for tracking the number plates,” he says. Dighavkar adds that, apart from CCTV cameras, increased police presence on the streets has also led to a drop in crime rates. “In the south region, we have assigned a constable for 2-3 housing societies who does rounds of housing societies and has a bank of data on the details of all the tenants, senior citizens, drivers and domestic helps.”