BENGALURU: Residents of Madiwala, as well people who regularly commute through this neighbourhood, are anxious about a new group of mobile phone thieves around here. The criminals seem to be orchestrating an accident or a rush, and in the resulting confusion, one of their accomplices makes away with your mobile phone.
There is the accident technique. Joju Jacob, a techie from Koramangala, lost his mobile phone on Saturday afternoon at the busy Forum Mall signal. “I had been waiting for the signal to change when a young guy walked to my car and knocked against the side mirror,” says Joju. “He was murmuring something and when I tried to catch what he was saying, another man came to the other side of my car and ran away with the mobile I had left on the passenger seat.” Joju was oblivious to the whole thing until a passer-by asked him to check if his belongings are safe. “I realized it had been stolen but had to helplessly keep going because the signal turned green,” he says.
He quickly drove up to Madiwala police station to register a complaint and found, after a quick chat, that there were three others who had been robbed in a similar fashion. “These thieves approach us at busy traffic junctions and just when the signal is set to change... we are forced to drive away,” he says.
Two weeks back, Vaisakh ML lost his smartphone when he was crowded into a bus. A software professional with St John's Medical College, he says that he was boarding a bus from the stop near the college when he was carried into it by a sudden mob. “I got into the bus, but the others who pushed me in, didn’t. The bus was nearly empty and then I realised that someone had stolen my phone. I suspect that this was an organised group of people who crowd at the doors,” he says. A snack vendor at the stop says that this is a regular method of stealing. “Many have lost their mobile phones and others, purses,” he says.
Madiwala police, however, have not heard of any such organised robberies. “Usually mobile phone thefts are done by pickpocketers,” says H Gowda, Sub Inspector at Madiwala police station, adding that “even people without any crime background get tempted to steal when they see a bulging pocket with mobile phone.”
They see 2 to 3 complaints of mobile phone thefts every day, says Gowda.
The cops aren’t too optimistic about cracking the cases. “People who steal them switch off the phones immediately or sell them at the earliest,” says Neelakantan M, Sub Inspector at Madiwala Police Station. “In the first, we can’t track the phone and, in the second, it isn’t easy to catch the culprit because the buyer will not know it was stolen.”
Earlier the thieves would sell the stolen goods at shops. “Nowadays, they are selling it directly to random people from various places at a cheap price,” says Neelakantan. “Along with that they will resell the phone in other cities and states also.”