Thursday, July 13, 2017

Cellphone thefts drop by 34% on Mumbai railways upto April

Times of India: Mumbai: Thursday, July 13, 2017.
Mobile phone thefts, the most-reported crime on suburban railways, have been steadily decreasing in the first four months of 2017 as compared to the previous two years. Four hundred cellphone thefts were recorded between January to April 2017 which is 34% lesser than last year.
Nearly 58% of the complainants got their stolen phones back and 273 mobile thieves were arrested this year.
Electronic surveillance and deploying teams in mufti such as the all-women Nirbhaya squad have helped the cops to nab offenders. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has also been chipping in. "We have compiled a booklet containing profiles of habitual criminals operating in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The booklet contains the name, age, alias, address and offence committed by each individual. It can be referred to easily by personnel posted on trains and station areas," said senior divisional security commissioner, RPF (WR) Anup Shukla. Western Railway is also in the process of increasing the number of cameras, particularly in non-suburban sections. "Currently, there are 1103 cameras in the entire division. We intend to increase the number to 2800. Tenders have been given out," said a railway official.
"Annually, 846 cellphone thefts were reported in 2015 and 849 last year. Of these, 52% complainants got their stolen phones back in 2015 and 57% in 2016," said activist Nitin Gaikwad, who obtained the information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. I wanted to know how many commuters actually get their stolen mobile phones back," he added.
To make the process of penalising thieves more stringent, the GRP has been filing chargesheets faster. "This prevents the accused from getting bail. Past records of the accused are also put up before court so as to argue for a longer sentence," said a GRP officer. "We have also been studying the time and location of cellphone thefts and posting personnel accordingly," he added.
Both the railway security agencies have been instructed to step up visibility in station areas as it acts as a deterrent for criminals. In the past, the GRP has often been criticised for checking content in passengers' cellphones or checking their bags and demanding money for release. "Personnel have been instructed to not check baggage randomly, unless absolutely necessary. If baggage has to be checked, it needs to be done under CCTVs and in the presence of an officer of sub-inspector rank or above," said a top GRP official.