Mumbai crime rate drops! Has demonetisation stolen thieves' thunder?

Updated: Nov 18, 2016, 08:27 IST | Anurag Kamble

Could demonetisation be shielding you from thieves? From November 9 till 14, cash and jewellery thefts, house break-ins and vehicle thefts in Mumbai dropped by nearly 50%


Illustration/ Ravi Jadhav

Could demonetisation be shielding you from thieves and burglars? Preliminary data suggests so. From November 9 — a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared war on black money -- till November 14, cash and jewellery thefts, house break-ins and vehicle thefts in the city dropped by nearly 50%.

Police sources attribute this substantial drop in the crime rate to thieves' worry about getting their loot out into the market without drawing attention or failing to exchange high denomination notes. The presence of large posses of police patrol teams, especially at night, since the demonetisation move could also have deterred potential criminals from striking.

Police patrolling around banks and ATMs could be reason for the drop in rate
Police patrolling around banks and ATMs could be reason for the drop in rate  

"You can call this a positive effect of the [demonetisation] move," says senior police officer. "Thieves and burglars who seek easy money through petty crimes don’t want to get their hands on the banned currency."

The sources say thefts in the city since November 9 mostly pertain to consumer durables, such as phones and car speakers, rather than valuables like cash and jewels.

Jewellers wary
Mumbai registers an average of one chain snatching case every day, but since November 9, only five such cases have been reported. "Three of these are from the central region alone. Since jewellers are not keen on entertaining customers wishing to convert their Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 into gold [fearing tighter scrutiny by the government], chain snatchers are laying low," says the officer.

Soon after the government’s announcement deeming high denomination notes illegal tender, there was a mad scramble at jewellery stores across the country to get rid of such currency notes. The central government has now ordered all jewellery stores to surrender their CCTV camera footage, beginning November 8 night, to crack down on black money launderers. This directive has put many jewellers in the city on the edge.

Police patrolling has been stepped up since demonetisation, to control crowds outside ATMs and banks

Tighter vigilance
Ashok Dudhe, deputy commissioner of police and PRO, Mumbai Police, however, isn’t jumping the gun as yet. “Crime rates drop and rise; that’s a regular feature. The drop this past week could have been due to tighter patrols since large groups of citizens make a beeline for ATMs at night, and banks by the day. Seeing the presence of a large number of police personnel for crowd control could have deterred criminals,” he feels.

No taker for stolen vehicles
Vehicle thefts account for the largest offence in island city — with nine cases being registered daily on an average. But from November 9-14, only six such thefts were reported. “Stolen vehicles are sold at cheaper rates outside the state. But this has stopped now owing to the cash crunch,” says a crime branch officer. “This is based on only preliminary figures. The monthly crime rate will give us a clearer picture on whether demonetisation actually had an effect on criminals."

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