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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Technology makes life difficult for pickpockets

Fewer Cases Reported In Mumbai & Navi Mumbai But There Is An Increase In Chain-Snatchings

 Amiddle-aged sales executive looks sharp as he steps out of the bank and walks briskly towards the taxistand. From his body language, a gang of three pickpockets easily guesses that the 'maal' (cash) is kept in his front, left trouser pocket, as his left hand constantly pats that 

area. In less than 20 seconds, his pocket is picked, as two of the men distract him while the third 'kalakar' (artiste) commits the crime. 
    The scene could very well have been in the Bombay of the 1980s and '90s, when credit cards and debit cards were rare. Today, the sly and wily crime of 'pocketmaari', 
which has existed since the Dickensian days of Oliver Twist, is on the decline in the metropolis. 
    In 2011, only 10 cases were registered by the Navi Mumbai police, while 172 chain-snatchings were recorded. 
    The same year, in the larger Mumbai police jurisdiction, 162 cases of pickpocketing were registered, while 1,666 chain-snatchings were reported. 
    "The biggest reason for pickpocketing cases to drop is people switching to plastic money,'' said Mumbai's joint commissioner (crime) Himanshu Roy. "We have learned this during the interrogation of pickpockets. Earlier, people would carry large amounts of cash in wallets. Now, cash is carried in smaller quantities, only for conveyance or to buy a snack. Finding ATM cards in a stolen wallet is not such an attractive option for pickpockets,'' added Roy. 
    Roy said it doesn't mean pickpockets have reformed, as they have taken to other forms of crime–like stealing spareparts of automobiles and chain-snatching. 
    A crime detection official from Navi Mumbai reasoned: "Today, the market rate of gold is over Rs 27,400 per 10 gm, so it is much more lucrative for criminals to snatch a gold chain and flee, instead of learning the difficult skill of pickpocketing.'' 
    He added that of the 10 cases of pickpocketing in Navi Mumbai last year, seven took place in public transport buses, while three were in crowded places. 
    A veteran 'chindi chor' (minor thief) from Kurla who earlier dabbled in pickpocketing, commented: "Besides ATM cards, we nowadays avoid stealing expensive smartphones as their original owners can easily trace the items. Technology has made life difficult for us thieves!'' 

Surge In Motor Vehicle Thefts 
    
In 2010, Mumbai police recorded 179 cases of pickpocketing. Figure decreased by 9% in 2011; only 162 cases were registered 
    Compared to decline in pickpocketing in Mumbai, there was a surge in motor vehicle thefts; 1,540 four-wheelers and 2,606 twowheelers were stolen in 2011 in Mumbai. In 2010, 1,160 four-wheelers and 2,506 two-wheelers were stolen. In fact, surging figures of vehicle theft have prompted police to plan a cell to solve only such cases 
    In Navi Mumbai, crime graph for pickpocketing remained almost same in 2010 and 2011, with 10 cases. Most were in crowded buses 
    Compared to these low figures of pickpocketing, motor vehicle thefts in Navi Mumbai were high; 913 cases were registered in 2011 
    In 2010, there were 1,004 cases registered in Navi Mumbai 

Lingo and Code Words 
Machine/kalakar: Main person who picks pocket Thekebaaz: Assistants of 'machine', they distract victim Thole log: Policemen Sauda: Wallet Peela: GoldKauwa: Mobile phone Ek Gaj: A Rs 100 currency note Takla/Patta: Rs 500 note Thanna: Rs 1,000 note Master/ustaad: Person who teaches tricks of the trade (known as Fagin in English, due to the Charles Dickens novel, 'Oliver Twist')


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