South-west is the largest district of Delhi Police with 15 police stations that had registered a total of 151 cases of motor vehicle (MV) thefts till July last year. However, in four months, the department brought down the number of such thefts to 142 cases, with the arrest of 118 car thieves until August. A police officer close to the survey said, “Most of these 118 car thieves are young boys who came to Delhi to study or look for jobs. Very few of them belong to Delhi. These young men are not able to get admissions in any educational institutions and choose the path of easy money. Jobs are difficult to find and the need for money forces them to take to crime. Many of them come from decent family backgrounds.”
The data reveals that 40% of the car thieves were involved in one or two previous cases and 5% were professional criminals. The special drive conducted by the South-west district police department resulted in the recovery of 283 stolen vehicles.
The police officer said, “There is no lock that these thieves don’t know about, and they can break them effortlessly. They use ‘break locks’ and always carry a master key. Car thieves operate mostly at night and don’t keep the stolen car with them for too long. They either sell it off or dismantle it and sell spare parts. A stolen motorcycle can give you Rs 5,000-6,000 and a stolen car can bring a maximum of Rs 50,000-60,000. We have come across cases where lifters sell off stolen cars online through various buy-sell portals only to steal the same car again.”
According to the survey data, around 58% of the vehicles are lifted from residential areas, 11% from commercial complexes, 4% from parks and open spaces, 21% from roadsides and 6% from parking lots. The local police sought help of the RWAs/MWAs to control street crime in the areas and specifically focused on MV thefts. “If there are 5-6 entry and exit points in a district, barricading even one or two of them goes a long way in keeping the mischievous elements away. That is what we did. We closed in on the worst affected areas and barricaded the unattended exit roads after discussing with residents. Every beat staff was given vehicle checking proforma, the picket staff was alerted and night motorcycle patrolling was increased,” said a police official.
The initiative was started by Surender Kumar, the newly-appointed DCP of the South-west district, who has been proactively taking steps to check crimes.
Kumar said, “The result of our efforts was that in January this year, 103 cases of MV thefts during night were registered, which came down to 69 by July. A total of 15,000 vehicles were checked in just one month and the picket staff singularly was able to bust 21 car thieves, recovered 35 vehicles and 55 cases were solved. Motorcycle patrolling at night resulted in arresting nine car thieves along with eight vehicles being recovered and 15 cases were solved.”
An officer said, “We have asked the members of RWAs/MWAs to educate the residents about anti-vehicle theft measures. Vehicle owners should not rely on central locking systems of their four-wheelers and instead should use ‘chain locks’. The societies should appoint at least one guard who has the phone numbers of all the local authorities like the SHO, beat constable etc. Since the last one year, our efforts have resulted in the installation of over 15,000 CCTV cameras in various colonies of Dwarka. Installing GPS in vehicles is also a good safety measure.”