Rising street crime: 30 snatching cases reported in Jan

Police claim ongoing crackdown on riding motorcycles without papers an effective measure to control crime

Arsalan Altaf February 06, 2017

ISLAMABAD: While police claimed to have taken adequate measures to curb criminal activity in the capital, there has been a sharp rise in street crimes since the new year.

According to police records, 30 cases of snatching were reported from various areas of the capital in January. Since all such incidents are not reported to the police, the actual numbers could be higher.

Pedestrians seemed to be the most frequent victims of the snatching. Robbers made off with mobile phones, wallets, and even vehicles.

As per police data, the areas around Sabzi Mandi, Sectors I-10 and I-11 seemed to be a cesspool  for street crimes where seven cases were reported.

As many as four cases were reported from within the remits of Khanna police station. Three cases each were reported at the Tarnol, Industrial and Shalimar police stations.

Most of the victims complained that their wallets, purses and mobile phones were taken. But, at least two cab drivers reported that the robbers took away their vehicles after they had been booked by the suspects.

Another two men complained that the snatchers had taken away their motorcycles.

Resisting these thieves, who are often armed, too proved dangerous. In one of the cases, when the victim resisted the thieves, he was shot and left injured lying in a pool of blood.

The robbers seem to take up any and every opportunity. A high profile victim was the former deputy speaker of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, Shaheen Kausar Dar.

On January 19 she had pulled her car over to the side of the road near Khanna Pul to attend a phone call. But three unidentified armed men pulled up and looted her.

Men, who seemed to between 20 to 25 years of age and driving on the wrong side of the road, had approached the car and drew their guns. They demanded that Dar hand over her mobile phone, gold bangles and other valuables, Dar’s driver later told police.

The surge in crime has been witnessed despite the fact that the police have launched a campaign targeting motorcycle-riding street criminals. The police have been issuing fines and have impounded hundreds of motorcycles which were being driven without proper registration papers.

A senior police officer claimed that street crime falls whenever they launch such a drive, since the suspects involved in most of these incidents use stolen or unregistered bikes.

However, he acknowledged that such campaigns sometimes also create difficulties for the public since not all motorcyclists carry their registration papers with them all the time.

“We impound the motorcycle when a rider fails to produce their registration book or some other valid document,” the officer said.

“The only condition to get your impounded bike back is to produce the vehicle’s registration documents,” the officer said, emphasizing that random checks on the
road were still an effective way to control street crime.

Police, though, have claimed that in two of the cases reported in January, they hunted down the culprits soon after the incidents and arrested five suspected snatchers.

However, culprits involved in the other 28 cases still remain at large.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2017.

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