BlackBerry, iPhones, HTCs and even Nokia 3310s – Karachi’s robbers will take what they can get. According to a recent survey on crime, street criminals in the city have their eyes on your cellphone, regardless of its shape, size and ‘smartness’.
Rozee.pk, one of Pakistan’s most popular job portals, asked a 1,000 people in 88 cities of the country to fill out a survey about whether they had ever been robbed. A whopping 80 per cent hit back, saying that they had been victim of at least one type of theft.
According to the survey, most of Karachi’s street criminals have a voracious appetite for cellphones: a staggering 71 percent of the robberies involve people being deprived of them. Credit cards and wallets weren’t even a close second as these items were only snatched in 17 percent of the cases.
This trend is not circumscribed to the port city – Rozee.pk’s survey seems to suggest that cellphones were the hottest item among street criminals in Lahore and Islamabad as well. In Rawalpindi, however, it was wallets and credit cards that most robbers were gunning for.
SSP Amir Farooqui told The Express Tribune that cellphones, wallets, jewelry and credit cards were indeed what most criminals were after. “These objects are fairly liquid, you see,” he explained. He added that cellphone thefts are on the rise in Karachi because several small cellphone markets have sprung up in the city. “The shops’ owners are often in cahoots with the robbers.”
Rozee.pk’s survery shows that cellphone theives were on the prowl all over Karachi. The areas where cellphone snatchers were more likely to strike were Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Sharae Faisal, Nazimabad and DHA. The Citizens-Police Liaison Committee’s (CPLC) data, on the other hand, shows Arambagh and Ferozabad were the most dangerous places to roam around with cellphones though Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Sharae Faisal and Nazimbad also made it to the top spots.
With input by Faraz Khan
Danger in the dark
The national figures in Rozee.pk’s survey also show that most street criminals operate under the cover of darkness. The majority – 60 percent of wallet and cellphone thieves and 58 percent of the car snatchers – make their move once the sun has dipped below the horizon. But those who plunder houses are far more brazen: In 65 percent of the cases in Karachi, the criminals walk into the target house in broad daylight. This figure is higher for Lahore or Islamabad. Crime Investigation Department SP Mazhar Mashwani says maids, watchmen and servants have been found involved in majority of the house robberies. “If domestic help was to be hired carefully, the number of house robberies would plummet.”
What they steal?
Dude, where’s my car?
In Karachi, most robbers fancy rides with two wheels as opposed to those with four. Rozee.pk’s data shows that 53 percent of the vehicles stolen were motorcycles. This is consistent with the national figures as well as those gathered by CPLC. In addition to this, CPLC data shows that North Nazimabad and Clifton are hotspots for car thefts while most motorcycles were stolen in Jamshed Town and the Old City area. Gulshan-e-Iqbal was the worst area in the city: the most number of cars and motorcycles were snatched here.
While talking to The Express Tribune, SSP Khurram Waris said, “There are entire factories here where, within 5 minutes, vehicle’s engines and chassis numbers can be changed and new documents can be whipped up, after which the cars can be sent off to other cities legally,” he explained. “I just caught a notorious car thief, Mithal. You can’t imagine how many vehicles he’s stolen over the years. He claims that he used to take entire train bogeys packed with vehicles to other cities.”
The business is quite lucrative – SSP Waris said street criminals easily earn a minimum of Rs5,000 daily by lifting vehicles and selling them as well as their parts, including CNG kits. He added that teenagers are mostly involved in the crime.
Recovery rate of cellphones
To report, or not to report? That is the question
The Rozee.pk survey indicates that across the country only 30 percent of those deprived of cellphones report the crime. This is perhaps because of the poor recovery rate: Only 7 percent of those in Karachi who complained to the police got their cellphones back. But CPLC’s data shows that the recovery rate for cars and motorcycles is higher:
SSP Waris told The Express Tribune that the citizens are partly to blame for the spiraling crime rate as they often fail to register cases against street criminals. “How is the police supposed to catch the suspects unless the crime is reported and an FIR is registered?”
Kashif Naeem, a resident of Orangi Town who has been robbed about six times, has a simple explanation of why crime is underreported. “When my cellphone was stolen for the first time and I made my way to the police station, the law enforcers made me feel as if I was the one who had stolen something,” he said. “After that experience, I never plucked up the courage and effort to go to register a complaint again.”
Where they steal?
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2012.