Mobile thefts , that were once the most reported crime in the suburban railways, is now showing a downward trend. This decrease in thefts has been seen since the beginning of January and is the lowest since the past two years.
According to a report by the Times of India, four hundred cell phone thefts have been reported between January and April 2017. This number is about 34% less compared to last year. Of the total complaints filed, 58% of the people got their cell phones back and 273 thieves were arrested.
In a statement to TOI, a senior divisional security commissioner, RPF (WR) Anup Shukla, said "We have compiled a booklet containing profiles of habitual criminals operating in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The booklet contains the name, age, alias, address and offence committed by each individual. It can be referred to easily by personnel posted on trains and station areas." Officials believe that this decline is due to the deployment of electronic surveillance and extra under-cover teams across railway stations. Also, the all-women Nirbhaya squad has also had a huge role to play in nabbing these thieves.
In keeping with the trend of lesser crime, the Western Railway is also in the process of increasing the number of cameras in non-suburban stations. A senior railway official told TOI, "Currently, there are 1103 cameras in the entire division. We intend to increase the number to 2800. Tenders have been given out. Annually, 846 cellphone thefts were reported in 2015 and 849 last year. Of these, 52% complainants got their stolen phones back in 2015 and 57% in 2016," said activist Nitin Gaikwad, who obtained the information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. I wanted to know how many commuters actually get their stolen mobile phones back."
The GRP has also hastened the process of filing chargesheets. "This prevents the accused from getting bail. Past records of the accused are also put up before court so as to argue for a longer sentence. We have also been studying the time and location of cellphone thefts and posting personnel accordingly." Said a GRP officer.
Previously the GRP has been criticised for randomly checking the contents of people phones and bags, confiscating the bags and charging a fee for its return. A senior GRP officer said that in order to thwart this type of incident, the GRP officers have been asked not to check bags unless absolutely necessary and to do so under a CCTV camera and in the presence of a official who is of the rank of a sub-inspector or above.
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