Illegally parked car owners replace wheels on which clamps have been put by the traffic police, and drive away vehicles, taking expensive equipment with them

Errant car owners who park illegally have found a new way to beat the system.

The wheel clamps introduced by the Mumbai Traffic Police to mark vehicles parked in No Parking Zones are no longer as foolproof as cops thought they would be, as car owners are now simply removing the wheels on which the clamps have been installed, replacing them with spare tyres and driving off.

This has caused monetary loss to the traffic department -- both, in terms of fines, as well as equipment.
Speaking to Sunday MiDDAY, on condition of anonymity, a traffic policeman said, "Instances of clamp theft are increasing and this is a cause for worry, as the cost of one four wheeler clamp is Rs 2,500 Rs 3,000. The cost of one clamp is equal to the fine imposed on 10 illegally parked vehicles."

The clamp system, based on a German design, reduced the burden on traffic cops, who relied on tow away trucks to penalise offenders. The drawback of that method was that only one car could be towed away at a time, and required officials to make several trips from No Parking Zones to the traffic police chowkie.

Close to 1,200 cars are penalised by the traffic department every day. The department owns 500 clamps.

Now, as cases of clamps being stolen rise, cops are looking to increase vigilance in areas where clamps have been installed on the wheels of cars.

Senior Police Inspector (Traffic) Pydhonie MP Patil said, "The wheel clamps that we use are made of metal and cannot be tampered with. However, people use a stepney to replace their wheels. They end up taking the clamp with their old wheel. We register such cases with the police, as these clamps are government property. The name of the car owner and the address is obtained from the RTO office and we prosecute the guilty."

Additional Commissioner of police (Traffic) Brijesh Singh said, "The number of people who take away the wheel clamp using a stepney is minimal. But those who indulge in this activity will face serious consequences, as this would amount to theft of government property. the offender  would prosecuted under the Indian Penal Code."
At present, the traffic department places stickers carrying a phone number on cars, so that the owner is able to contact them to pay the fine and have his car released.