Six shops at Colaba Causeway were robbed in a span of five days, despite the stores being metres away from the local Colaba police station. The reason? The police are unable to see any suspicious activity around the shops, since the hawkers at Causeway have put up plastic sheets to cover their wares, which blocks their view.
Police say they are not able to see anything happening near the shops, as these plastic sheets put up by hawkers block their vision. Pic/Sameer Markande
Five shops were looted on August 1 and one on August 5 – cash and goods were stolen. The Colaba Merchants Association went to the police and registered cases against unknown accused. But, when they asked why the crooks were going unchecked, the police said they were unable to patrol the area properly, because of the hawkers’ plastic sheets.
Anil Shinde, the police officer in charge of the case, said, “We have taken the FIR of these store owners and investigations are on. We have also informed the BMC to get rid off these hawkers as their monsoon sheds has totally blocked our view.” He continued, “It is important for shop owners to have watchmen, safety doors, CCTVs to have security in place.”
Nari Hathiramani, chairman of Colaba Merchants Association, said, “This hawking nuisance has not stopped at all; rather, it has increased. The police, too, found it difficult to patrol our area. We approached the BMC and were told that their staff was busy with the hawker registration drive and that action would be taken in a few days’ time.”
The civic body is currently in the process of formally registering hawkers in the city. A similar spate of robberies had hit the area in 2009, when 16 shops had been burgled in a single month. This time, one of the shops even caught the robbers on CCTV cam. Owners, meanwhile, have installed extra shutters to protect their shops.
Devidas Kshirsagar, assistant municipal commissioner, said, “We received the shopkeepers’ complaint and confirmed it with the police department. We got the hawkers cleared from the spot by sending our staff. However, we will get the illegal hawkers removed in a few days, as we are currently busy with our hawker registration drive.”
Losses: Rs 1.07 lakh
I was looted in 2009 as well of R6.5 lakh. Even then, there was no action taken against anyone. They entered my store through the AC duct, as the AC had been kept aside.
Losses: Rs 84,200
I entered my store at 9.30 am on Aug 1 and saw cash and clothes were stolen. I have a central lock and four locks to my shutter, which were broken. I will have to check on new security measures.
Losses: Rs 60,000
Two men broke open the locks of my shutter and looted all the cash. They also took two bottles filled with almonds and pistas.
Losses: Rs 63,908
When I entered my shop on August 1 around 10.30 am, there was a huge mess and all my locks had been broken.