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Mumbai: Lost limbs on tracks, now robs commuters on trains

Updated on: 19 June,2024 06:53 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Samiullah Khan |

Rly cops say that of all the cases they solve in a month, at least 30 per cent are with the help of facial recognition cameras

Mumbai: Lost limbs on tracks, now robs commuters on trains

Accused Usman Yousuf Shaikh in police custody

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Mumbai: Lost limbs on tracks, now robs commuters on trains

A thief specialising in stealing mobile phones from sleeping passengers on trains and platforms has been arrested with the help of the Railway’s face recognition system. The accused, who is disabled, lost a hand and a leg about 15 years ago in a train accident. Taking advantage of his disability, the accused would gain people’s sympathy and sit near them. While they were talking or dozing off, he would steal their valuables, especially mobile phones.

The complainant, 42-year-old Raju Vasant Jadhav, a resident of Nalasopara who works in Goregaon, was waiting for a train at Goregaon station on May 18. He fell asleep with his phone in hand, and when he woke up, his Oppo mobile phone, worth around R4,000, was missing. He reported the theft to the railway police. Upon reviewing CCTV footage, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) identified the accused stealing the phone.

Accused Usman Yousuf Shaikh in  police custody
Accused Usman Yousuf Shaikh in police custody

“We identified the accused, but his whereabouts were initially unknown,” said an officer from GRP. “Under the guidance of DCP Sandip Bhajibhakare and the supervision of Senior Police Inspector Datta  Khuperkar of Borivli GRP, Assistant Sub Inspector Prakash Salunkhe and the detection team searched for the accused. He was arrested at Malad station on Monday.”

The accused’s actions were recorded by CCTV cameras installed at the station. A cropped image of him was uploaded into the RPF’s facial recognition system. When the CCTV footage at Malad station was reviewed again, the system issued an alert. With the assistance of RPF officers stationed at Malad, the accused was taken into custody.

The arrested man has been identified as Usman Yousuf Shaikh, 45, who resides near the Maratha Mandir Cinema footpath in the Mumbai Central area. Shaikh has multiple cases against him.

Facial recognition system

Since 2018, face recognition cameras have been installed at various railway stations of Western Railway. These cameras issue an immediate alert if a person’s picture is fed into the system and detected again by the camera. The alert is sent to the control unit at each station, operated by the RPF. Upon receiving the alert, the RPF and the GRP team at the station are notified immediately.

CCTV footage of Jadhav being robbed at Goregaon station
CCTV footage of Jadhav being robbed at Goregaon station

On average, around 60 cases are solved monthly with the help of CCTV cameras installed on railway platforms, with nearly 30 per cent of these cases solved using facial recognition system cameras. Previous instances of the Western Railway using the facial recognition system.

Case 1
The Western Railway RPF is effectively catching thieves, especially in Mumbai, using regular CCTV checks and facial recognition system (FRS) cameras. One major case involved the theft of four mobile phones at Andheri Station. Continuous surveillance by the ADH CPDS team, under RPF supervision, led to the arrest of Vinod Prem Chand Gupta, 38, on March 20. Gupta, who lives in Andheri East, confessed to stealing the four mobile phones. He was handed over to GRP/Andheri for further action. The total value of the stolen phones is Rs 87,499.

Case 2
On January 8, Sultan Mahmood Shah, a 21-year-old resident of Jogeshwari West, reported the theft of his mobile phone at Mahim railway station. An unknown person knocked the phone from his hand, causing it to fall onto the tracks. Sultan searched for his phone but could not find it.

He reported the incident to the GRP at Andheri, who directed him to check the CCTV footage. The CPDS team of the RPF at Andheri reviewed the footage, which showed an unknown person stealing the phone. They extracted a photo of the suspect, updated it in the FRS, and monitored the suspect’s movements.

On January 12, an alert was triggered by the FRS on a suspected person. The team swiftly arrested the suspect on platform 1 of Andheri station. The suspect, 17-year-old Nikhil Nagesh More, a resident of Vile Parle West, confessed to the theft.

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