BENGALURU: Serial chain-snatching has come back to haunt Bengalureans.
Last month, men riding black Pulsar motorbikes struck at 16 places in the city, mugging lone women at intervals of 15 to 20 minutes.
Snatching the chain while riding a two-wheeler has been the modus operandi in many cases. It makes it easy for the culprits to flee with the booty instantly.
Concerned over the spurt in chain-snatching cases, police are even contemplating invoking the Goonda Act.
But where do these gangs come from and what is their modus operandi? In a number of serial chain-snatching cases, it is said that groups from outside the State are operating. Among the many groups, the police have identified at least three outside groups that strike the city and disappear.
“The Irani gang is the most infamous of them all. Spread across the country, they usually target elderly women. They arrive in their own vehicles, either snatch chains or divert the attention of people and make away with cash and jewellery. They usually attack a number of people till they reach their ‘target’, which in most cases is about 5-8 kg of gold,” said an officer in the Central Crime Branch (CCB).
While 11 members of the gang were arrested in July last year, more are still operating in different parts of the country and may have come to the city, the police suspect.
“Lala, one of their members, is an accused in 80 cases and he is gradually getting bail in all these cases. He may be out on bail in a few months,” a police official said.
The other gang suspected in this crime is a UP-based gang. The leader of this gang, identified as Lakshmikanth, arrested by the Salem police, was recently released on bail.
“We suspect that one of these two groups may have come to the city, robbed and left,” said an inspector involved in the investigation.
Low Conviction Rate: What is worrying the police is the low conviction rate. They say that in most cases, the accused are not convicted as they get bail easily and don’t return for trial because victims often turn hostile after getting their property back.
Senior police officers believe that the accused should be in jail for at least six months considering the violent nature of these crimes and the effect it has on victims.
But at present, they are usually in jail from one week to a few months.
“Getting bail easily is an issue and we are looking at how to address various lacunae in the criminal justice system, and also the role of police officers and prosecutors,” City Police Commissioner M N Reddi said.
When Express raised the issue of many victims turning hostile once they got their property back, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) P Harishekaran said that public cooperation is required to prevent crimes.
Vacancies Galore: With close to 30% vacancies across police stations in the city, the police do not have enough staff to put up adequate check points or to cover every area in the city.