DHA’s dirty secret: House robberies

Unless people report the crimes, no solutions will emerge, say police.


Faraz Khan/shaheryar Mirza February 27, 2012

KARACHI:


Nearly half of the people whose houses are robbed in Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and Clifton are not reporting the crime. The irony is that the police won’t be able to improve the situation unless the picture is clear.


“There is a 40 per cent gap between the number of FIRs registered and the actual crimes committed,” says Ahmed Chinoy of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC). “All people need to report these crimes so we know where it is happening and identify any trends to improve policing efforts.”

In the first half of January alone, there were 20 robberies reported. It is small wonder that closed-circuit cameras, barbed wire, security guards and systems are beginning to dominate this landscape. As the people put more stock in private arrangements, the faith in the police drops.

“What’s the point of registering an FIR?” argues Babar, who is a victim. “Here every second day some house is being robbed. They don’t get anything out of it, what could we possibly get out of it?”

Heavy reconnaissance and surveillance is conducted before any house is targeted. The gangs of robbers usually operate in groups of five to six and the good news is that in most cases, they don’t harm the residents. Generally, the group will arrive in a car, which helps for a swift escape later. Once they enter the house, the landline is disconnected, the door locked from the inside and the family is held hostage. While they may not physically harm anyone, the men do use the psychological tool of threatening them to maintain the upper hand.

The problem is that the numbers add up too neatly. For instance, in district South, which is DHA and Clifton, a total of 250 robberies were registered with the CPLC – the exact same number – in 2010 and 2011. This includes armed robbery and theft. Boat Basin police station displayed the same trend: the exact same number of robberies for two consecutive years: 40. CPLC’s Chinoy says that this is just a coincidence.

It’s not just the homes that are fair game. Shopkeepers in Phase IV protested outside Gizri police station last week, fed up with being held up. “Robberies take place daily here. Five shopkeepers were looted in a single day but police did not take any action,” complained a shopkeeper, Imtiaz. They said that in particular, criminals were free to roam around on 9th and 10th Commercial streets

Gizri SHO Syed Mohsin Mushhadi said he had reports of only one robbery that day, not five, thereby proving Chinoy’s assertion that the crimes is generally underreported.

“There’s definitely an increase in the DHA areas,” admits Chinoy, referring to street crime, muggings, car snatching, cell-phone theft. He estimates that 70 per cent of street crime goes unreported.

The highest number of robberies took place in the jurisdiction of Darakshan police station: 70 (in 2011) and 63 (in 2010).

A private businessman, Anjum, who resides in Badar Commercial says, “If I tell you the truth, it’s become really hard to live here now. For just a little bit of cash a robber put a gun to my child’s head. If the gun had gone off, who would have been responsible?”

Clifton SP Tariq Dharejo urges people to register their household help as he feels only 20 per cent of house robberies are committed by outside gangs. “It is very hard for criminal gangs to know inside information about the targets,” he says. “Nobody knows a home and its residents better than servants do.”

The police distributed about 6,000 forms for verification only 325 of them were filled and returned. Another solution that hasn’t been tapped is community policing programmes set up by the CPLC for neighborhoods. “Without families cooperating, we can’t do anything,” Dharejo says. “If they did, we could control at least 80 per cent of the robberies.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2012.

COMMENTS (5)

Bhuley Shah | 9 years ago | Reply

Karachi has become heaven for robbers and small time thiefs. Police is really helpful to them and not the public. When police does not registers reported cases, then citizens have the right to think that someone is helping these robbers.

Asif | 9 years ago | Reply

When the police gets its share from robberies, why would they even bother to investigate and arrest them!!

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