Chain-snatching in Mumbai on the fall
The number of chain-snatching incidents in Mumbai has witnessed a steep fall in the past couple of years. This was revealed in response to an RTI enquiry by mid-day
After struggling to rein in the chain-snatching menace for years, Mumbai Police’s persistent efforts to curb this street crime have finally borne fruit – the number of chain-snatching incidents has witnessed a steep fall in the past couple of years, as was revealed in the response to an RTI enquiry by mid-day.
According to the cops, this fall in crime is due to the proactive steps they have taken, by setting up CCTV cameras, keeping tabs on history-sheeters and constant patrolling in high-risk areas.
While there was a slight rise in the figures from 2012 to 2013, since then, there has been a steady decrease in the number of chain-snatching incidents with each passing year. Last year, the crime rate had fallen by 67%, with 1,409 cases registered across the city. This figure has fallen even further to 763 cases being recorded till October this year.
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The least number of cases were recorded in Zone 1, which registered merely 10 chain-snatching cases across the Cuffe Parade, Colaba, Marine Drive, Azad Maidan, Dongri and JJ Marg police stations.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Ravindra Shisve told this paper, “Two things have helped us curb chain-snatchings: our criminal tracking system and constant bandobast. Through the criminal tracking system, we keep a close eye on all history-sheeters, and often summon them to the police station.
We also placed our police force at every spot on the road that we feel is vulnerable to chain-snatchings. We ensure that there is an hour-long bandobast every other hour at such spots.”
In comparison, the Sion and Matunga areas witnessed far more episodes of chain-snatching, due to the presence of several temples there, where devotees decked in jewellery make for an easy target. In addition, these areas also lie along the highway, making it easy for crooks to make a quick getaway.
DCP Ashok Dudhe (Zone 4) said, “Initially, we kept a tab on when and where the chain-snatchings were taking place, and accordingly made our presence visible there. We have also installed CCTV cameras in the area, which makes it easier for us to catch the criminals.”
The force has also maintained a pretty steady rate of detection, clearing about 40% of the cases across the past four years. This year, the cops have cracked 44.95% of the cases (see box). However, the value of the jewellery stolen and recovered has varied considerably each year. This could be due to the changing prices of gold.
‘Cops were deployed 24x7’
In an interview with mid-day, Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti details the preventive measures taken by the force
Q. Chain-snatching was a major issue even until 2014. What strategies did the force use to curb this crime?
A. We took two steps which helped lot — one was to take preventive measures; we learnt that police presence was the most important thing to curb this menace, so we deployed our forceon the roads 24 hours a day. We also got a list of vulnerable spots and exit points where we kept checking all suspicious bikers. On the other hand, we also began to charge culprits under Section 392 (robbery) of the Indian Penal Code, which keeps them behind bars for at least a few months.
Q. Was there a specific team focusing on chain-snatchings?
A. I appreciate the hard work done by each police staffer, but we do have a specific team at every police station, keeping tabs on the chain-snatching incidents and spots.
Q. How big a role did electronic surveillance play?
A. When it comes to detecting the cases, CCTV cameras have helped us a lot, but they don’t help when it comes to curbing crime. Only police presence on the road has been effective there.
Q. What other steps were taken?
A. We have learnt that drug addicts have been committing such crimes in order to fund their drugs. So we keep bringing these addicts to the police station on a regular basis for inquiry. Exit points of the city, including railway stations, are also watched regularly.
Snatch and run
2012: 1,954 cases registered
2015: 763 cases till October