A few days ago, in the morning, auto rickshaw driver Rajesh Kumar returned to the spot in Bandra where he had parked his vehicle the night before and found a tyre missing. Anxious, he approached other drivers in the area who claimed to have had similar experiences recently.
Auto rickshaw drivers from Janabai Road, Vile Parle, put locks on their vehicles as a precautionary measure. Pic/Nimesh Dave
“Side tyres, which are easier to remove, go missing more often than those at the front of the vehicle,” said Kumar (name changed on request)
The thefts mainly occur along the highways near the Bandra-Khar stretch, Vile Parle, Jogeshwari, Bhandup and Vikhroli. On the condition of anonymity, a taxi union leader who runs a fleet of share auto rickshaws in Bandra (E), said, “Even motor engines are being stolen as the vehicles are kept in isolated parking spaces. Unfortunately, this offence does not fall under criminal complaints. We approach the police, but they only file a non-cognisable complaint.”
Each tyre costs at least Rs 1,300, without the nuts, bolts and other equipment, which, when included, takes the cost to Rs 1,700. They are sold for Rs 200-300 to second-hand dealers.
Drivers have resorted to strapping the tyres with lock and metal chains to prevent theft. One end of the chain is tied to the bumper of the rickshaw and the other to the tyre, and is then locked. Many have also change the tyres' nuts and bolts — which involves using a different size of nuts and bolts for their tyres, which cannot be removed by the most common form of nut-bolt remover used by thieves.