Police apathy makes locals wield lathis against thieves

A gang of thieves haunts Bhandup, targeting one house every day but cops say only 2 cases have been lodged in 8 days; residents have formed squads to patrol at night

A group of thieves are wreaking havoc on the peace and safety of the residents of the central Mumbai suburb of Bhandup by attempting to target at least one house every day, locals allege. Miffed at the passive approach of the police toward what they perceive as a grave threat, the residents of Tembipada, Gamdevi Road, Maroda Hill, Milind Nagar, Tulsi Pada and Ganesh Nagar areas have formed their own squads.

Big steal: On Sunday, the Pajero belonging to former Congress MLA
Shyam Sawant was stolen from his house in Bhandup (West), one of the
two cases registered by the police in the last 8 days. Pics/Siddharth Dhadve

They patrol the area in shifts during night, armed with lathis. But they say that their sticks are no match for the more deadly sickles the thieves possess.

"We fear to send our women out of the house after eight in the evening. Some of the residents have seen these thieves. They have been climbing our roofs to commit thefts. Some of the residents chased the thieves, but they escaped in a Scorpio," said Sagar Gaikwad of Sanjeevani Mitra Mandal of Tembipada area. 

On Sunday, some of the miscreants sped away with a Pajero that belonged to former Congress MLA Shyam Sawant who lives in Neptune building on LBS Road in Bhandup (West).

"I have registered an FIR with the Bhandup police and they told me that they will look into the matter. But cases of thefts are on the rise and the residents have taken to the roads against the cops," said Ritesh, son of Shyam Sawant.

Citizen vigilantes
"Though the cases of theft registered are not that many -- only two in the last eight days -- the thieves have made our life difficult. We are living in threat and have now finally formed teams of various mandals that take care of the area in the night as others sleep. We had intercepted one member from the gang but he managed to escape," said Santosh Kadam, a resident of the area.

The residents began patrolling the area and installed CCTVs to keep a check on the thieves. They have also started a signature campaign to protest the increasing crime rate in the area.

They chipped in to fix halogen lights to light up the area during night.

Deepti Kavalekar, a resident, added,  "We held a signature campaign and submitted the endorsements to the Bhandup police station. The cops say that only a few complaints have been registered, but we are living under threat. We hear the thieves make noise, running on our rooftops daily. Finally, the cops have agreed to give us two constables. We are now waiting for them as they are the only ray of hope for us."

Police say
Shrirang Nadgauda, Senior Police Inspector of Bhandup police station, said, "We have increased our vigils in the area. People are afraid of the thieves but we are trying our best to nab the gang."

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