If you love taking a morning walk or visit the temple between 6am and 9am on Sundays, beware. According to analysis done by the Mumbai police, motorcycle-borne chain-snatchers are on the prowl at this time as the roads are deserted and it’s easier to escape. Matunga, Sion, Mahim, Borivli and Dahisar are the most frequently targeted areas.
Mumbai police statistics show chain-snatching cases shot up drastically — from 800 in 2012 to 1,891 (more than five a day) in 2013. Of these, 30 per cent or more than 400 cases were registered on Sundays. The crime, records show, took place between 6am and 9am. The number of chain-snatchers has also gone up from 800 in 2012 to 2,000 in 2013.
“They (chain-snatchers) are targeting morning walkers and temple-goers, especially on Sundays,” said joint commissioner of police and Mumbai crime branch chief Himanshu Roy. “The reason is that there is comparatively less density on the roads which gives them a greater chance of fleeing quickly. More than 90 per cent of the chain-snatchers are on motorcycles which enables them to escape in no time.”
Of the 1,891 cases registered, the chain-snatchers were on two-wheelers in 1,504 cases.
The skyrocketing gold prices is another reason for the spurt in crime. “The price of gold has shot up tremendously in the past couple of years. Therefore, it has become more lucrative,” Roy told dna. He said the easy modus operandi makes it a simple crime to commit. “It (chain-snatching) doesn’t require great skills like for instance, looting a shop or safe-breaking. All it requires is a bike and two able hands. Also, the criminals wear helmets which makes it difficult to identify them,” Roy said.
A majority of them use stolen bikes, so even the bike number is not useful in most cases.
The analysis has revealed that five police stations — Matunga, Sion, Mahim, Borivli and Dahisar — have accounted for almost half of the chain-snatching cases compared to the other 90 police stations in the city. “There are a high number of cases in Matunga, Sion and Mahim because of the vast number of people who go for morning walks to Shivaji Park and Five Gardens area. There are quite a few temples in Matunga as well,” said a crime branch officer. “Borivli and Dahisar are close to the city borders and so, it is easier for the criminals to escape to Mira Road and Bhayandar areas.”
In an attempt to curb the crime, the police has started focusing on these areas and are keeping a watch on stolen bikes. “We are running several public awareness campaigns too,” said Roy. The police have started registering robbery cases as against theft because it attracts a harsher punishment. “In some cases, we have applied the stringent MCOCA too,” Roy said.