Karachiites dream of enjoying long walks with families, having ice cream on the streets in the blazing summer, enjoying the multitude of street foods the city has to offer, loitering about aimlessly, but they cannot due to the untamed street criminals in the city. Citizens either prefer to stay at home or commute in cars and motorcycles as pedestrians are left more vulnerable when it comes to robbers. Over time, the citizens of Karachi have sharpened their reflexes - they watchout for safe spots or quicken their pace when they hear the sound of a motorcycle approaching them in a dark or deserted street. The people of the provincial capital live in constant fear of getting mugged and they have been terrorised by street criminals for years now.
According to the statistics released by the Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), from January 1, 2020, to December 23, as many as 59,738 mobile phones, motorcycles and cars were snatched by looters.
During coronavirus-related lockdowns, the police had established checkpoints at different spots of the city to keep the citizens indoors, but it did little to keep people safe from the criminal elements as 21,354 mobile phones, 2,363 motorcycles and 190 vehicles were snatched from citizens at gunpoint. Moreover, 34,340 motorcycles and 1,491 vehicles were stolen in the city.
On average, around 167 citizens were mugged by criminal elements every day and seven people were looted every hour throughout 2020.
The numbers released by the CPLC revealed that 1,939 mobile phones were snatched in January, 1,846 in February and 1,381 in March. However, there was a dip in the registered complaints regarding mobile phone theft in April as 846 complaints were lodged in the month. Moreover, 1,438 were snatched in May, 1,899 in June, 2,127 in July, 2,045 in August. September saw the robbers breaking loose as 2,510 mobile phones were taken at gunpoint. Besides, 2,180 mobile phones were robbed in October, 1,843 in November and more than 1,300 till December 23.
Surge in motorcycle theft
The CPLC report further suggested that an increase in the stolen and snatched motorcycles during the year.
According to the CPLC statistics, the robbers and thieves deprived citizens of 34,340 motorcycles. As many as 2,608 motorcycles were stolen in the first month of the year, 2,430 in February, 2,376 in March, 2,906 in May, 2,744 in June, 2,904 in July and 3,203 in August. The snatchers and thieves were quite active in September as they got hold of 3,948 motorcycles in the month. Moreover, 3,669 motorcycles were stolen in October, 3,172 in November and 2,341 till December 23
Furthermore, 1,381 vehicles were snatched and stolen in 2020. As per the CPLC, 191 complaints were lodged in January, 150 in February, 121 in March, 70 in April, 77 in May, 154 in June, 177 in July, 123 in August, 174 in September, 178 in October and 155 in November and 101 in December.
Kidnapping and extortion
Apart from stealing and snatching, the criminal elements also kidnapped citizens and made them a target of extortion.
Two kidnapping cases were reported in the year, one in May and another in June. Moreover, 20 complaints regarding extortion were lodged by the citizens. Six such instances were reported in July, three each in September and November, two in January and October each, while one each in March, May, June and August.
Other major crimes
The criminal elements did not hesitate from murdering citizens either and 353 people were killed in the first 11 months of the year.
Moreover, a bank robbery also took place in May this year, where the robbers looted millions of rupees.
On the other hand, only 314 vehicles, 2,038 motorcycles and 2,106 mobile phones could be recovered from the suspects during the year.
Despite tall claims from the law enforcing agencies regarding curbing street crime, the criminals stayed at large and looted citizens at their will.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2020.