It was five in the morning when Indira Rao went for a morning walk at the joggers park and suddenly felt a tightening sensation on her neck. Her chain was being pulled from behind and it was at that moment when she realized something was wrong.
The number of petty crimes like gold chain and money snatching has increased in Jamshedpur by 42% even as the city prepares scaling down of lockdown restrictions.
According to the official data from the Jamshedpur Police Department, the number of theft cases were reported to be 532 for the months January-June 2019. In the year 2020, the number of theft cases decreased to 435 as there was a nationwide lockdown imposed. In 2021 again a sharp rise can be seen as the total number of cases were reported to be 756 so far. In terms of the total number of crimes too, there was a significant rise during the unlock period although no substantial increase is visible when compared with last year’s figures.
On an average, 30 incidents of cell phone snatchings and 15 incidents of chain as well as purse snatching are taking place under Bistupur and Sakchi thana areas a month while Police van having beacon lights and “mobile tiger” (mobile cop) keep on moving on the streets. Even in the crowded streets of Sonari and Kadma market, theft cases have been on the rise post pandemic. Incidents of conmen diverting the attention of the public and making away with their bags containing cash and valuables are seen everywhere. People coming out of banks or ATMs after withdrawing money have also been victims in a majority of cases.
Indira Rao, whose gold chain and purse was snatched during morning walk at the jogger’s park, said “It happened so quickly that till the time I screamed for help, they ran away. People were around but no one could do anything.” According to local vendors, the police patrols take place only for a few days after each incident and then things go back to normal. No one keeps a watch and robberies again start taking place.
“Since the market is so crowded all the time, it hardly takes 2 minutes to snatch our things and run away. It is impossible to identify them. Plus, no CCTV cameras are installed in the area even though most of the snatching takes place in this street.” says Sushila Mathur who owns a boutique at the Kadma main market and has herself been a witness to these snatching incidents.
“There has been a spurt in petty crimes in the city. We have been successful in arresting quite a few thieves involved in the reported cases but I think there is a need to ensure proper night watch. We are planning to increase the movement of mobile police and vigil,” noted a police official. He said crime figures may have increased after the lockdown but termed the phenomenon as not abnormal.
A senior officer from the Kadma thana has analyzed the situation in the area and he feels that “Due to the pandemic and lockdown, a large number of people have been unemployed and many of them have resorted to these petty crimes for survival. It is an easy way to earn cash and that is why we feel most of the theft and robbery cases take place on the roads.” He also says that since most of the citizens don’t feel a need to file an FIR for road robberies, many of the cases go undetected.
Though such incidents are frequently occurring in various parts of the city, the police have not been able to control the situation. A majority of chain snatching incidents have taken place during afternoon and late evening hours when it is difficult to identify the snatchers. It is also seen that snatchers grab the victims from the back to snatch their ornaments and escape from the scene within seconds. They also target women who pass through deserted areas. Until and unless both the residents as well as the police don’t cooperate together such cases are difficult to be solved.