It’s the cellphone which calls out to criminals

Published: December 9, 2012
According to a survey, mobile phones are the most stolen items in the city. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD & MAHA HAIDER

According to a survey, mobile phones are the most stolen items in the city. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD & MAHA HAIDER

According to a survey, mobile phones are the most stolen items in the city. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD & MAHA HAIDER According to a survey, mobile phones are the most stolen items in the city. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD & MAHA HAIDER

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’., 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 –’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.”’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

Vehicle thefts

Danger in the dark

The national figures in’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?

What they steal

Dude, where’s my car?

In Karachi, most robbers fancy rides with two wheels as opposed to those with four.’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 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.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Aamer Khawaja
    Dec 9, 2012 - 2:45AM

    “How is the police supposed to catch the suspects unless the crime is reported and an FIR is registered?”

    So I went to Gulshan Town Station to report that my cellphone was snatched. The SHO’s assistant quipped in typical style: “aray bhaee chinn gaya tau chinn gaya”Recommend

  • Something Clever
    Dec 9, 2012 - 3:22AM

    I always find cellphone theft in Pakistan to be funny. But, it’s in a really weird way. My cousin has gotten mugged 3 times. Yet he calls me on his cell phone so much, when looking for the bright side, I think “I hope they took his cellphone.” But, no, never once. They never take the phone. He has it on him all the time. I know they had the opportunity.
    It makes me want to go where he lives, hunt the guy down and give him some vigilante justice while repeating “This is what you get for being a tease you son of a…” and end it with “…oh, yeah, here’s one for robbing my cousin.”


  • patriot
    Dec 9, 2012 - 3:46AM

    Me and my brothers cellphones were snatched and wallets emptied by a armed teenager at the Gizri/khayabane shamsheer Signal,Near Kada market.We didnt registered FIR but atleast we got our cell phones blocked via IMEI. Blocking IMEI can be effective against cellphone theft as cellphone becomes totally useless as it cant operate on any network in pakistan.


  • Nan Vistelrooy
    Dec 9, 2012 - 8:33AM

    My solution is never buy a second hand cellphone esp. one without IMEI numbered box.


  • salmanzq
    Dec 9, 2012 - 9:32AM

    And you needed a study to tell us what every single person in Pakistan knows about already.


  • Kas123
    Dec 9, 2012 - 12:33PM

    Sorry to burst the “News Desk’s” bubble, but surveys from “” are not scientifically valid. Most online survey’s contain enough biases that their results are complete garbage.

    The people who responded to this survey are, by definition, more likely to have been victims of theft. Why would you waste your time responding, unless you were extremely angry about a theft?

    Any numbers and stats in this article aren’t worth the paper they were printed on.


  • Ali
    Dec 10, 2012 - 10:45AM

    Yes, it’s called research. You PROVE a point setting up hypothesis.
    Please google it.


  • Human
    Dec 10, 2012 - 10:47AM

    Great piece.


  • Anam
    Dec 10, 2012 - 11:57AM

    wow. most cell phones are snatched outside the victims house; now thats something to be cautious about :s
    one isnt safe even in their own home


  • Great Analysis!
    Dec 10, 2012 - 12:11PM

    Thanks for this great article. I responded to this survey a several months back purely out of curiosity (I have thankfully never been mugged but constantly hear/read about it from others). I was actually wondering a few weeks back if rozee had published their findings, particularly when 3 of my colleagues landed in Karachi and got mugged on their first day there. Very interesting facts and figures. The real question is what is the root cause and how to take effective corrective/preventive measures.


  • Huzaifa
    Dec 10, 2012 - 1:14PM

    Such researches should be carried out on a timely basis so they can help police too in drawing out a pattern.
    good analysis


  • Sarah
    Dec 10, 2012 - 1:53PM

    If you read carefully, the website is actually called I think the research is more than valid. Even without statistics or doing a research, one in three of my friends and family have been robbed at least once. A phone has been snatched from me in Lahore. Unfortunately, it just isn’t safe to walk around with a phone.

    It sounds as though you are trying to discredit the research without providing a valid rebuttal. I’d fill out a survey if I felt its results would serve a purpose, not because I’d get my phone back at the end of it!


  • Think before you speak
    Dec 10, 2012 - 2:19PM

    what’s with the apostrophe in survey’s??


  • Good Job
    Dec 10, 2012 - 4:29PM

    very insightful. nice graphics from rozee and tribune


  • Data
    Dec 10, 2012 - 6:07PM

    More researches like this should be conducted in Pakistan.


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