TIRUCHY: Some stories of burglary or even petty thievery have often left us puzzled about the preference of the “coveted object” that an outlawed gang sets its eyes on, and its quirky modus operandi.
So when an organised group of burglars pulled out stainless steel taps in the bathrooms of Cholan Express in the Tiruchy sector, the blunt pipes left passengers baffled, and got the railway authorities to swing into swift action.
The Railway Protection Force (RPF)’s recent nabbing of a thief in Tiruchy with about 28 taps in his possession, all stolen from Cholan Express, has thrown light on the planning and execution undertaken by gangs of railway tap thieves.
“We received a complaint about taps missing from a train that was halted in Tiruchy station. Our team checked the CCTV visuals and identified a suspicious person. RPF officials immediately checked various trains and caught the culprit red-handed from Cholan Express,” a source said.
In this case, the quick response and wide CCTV coverage in Tiruchy railway station helped the RPF officials net the thief before he messed up the journey of several passengers on the train.
‘Stealing of taps started in Mumbai’
This onboard stealing trend, which the RPF says began in Mumbai, has reached South India. Sources said that Tiruchy railway station had witnessed a similar incident a few months ago when a whopping 98 taps were stolen.
“The trains go to the yard for regular maintenance and then return to the station. Before going ahead with its next trip, the railway officials carry a thorough check to see whether the train is fit for its next run. We had received a complaint that about 98 taps were missing from a train that came from the Tiruchy yard. After thorough investigation, we caught the thief and recovered the taps,” an officer said.
In Southern Railway, sources said that the first tap missing case was reported from Ernakulam.
“We caught the three gangs that were active in stealing taps. In Tamil Nadu, we have such cases from Madurai, Tiruchy and Thanjavur. Normally, these people entrain carrying newspapers and spanners. After removing the tap, they plug the pipe using the paper. But, the one who was recently caught from Tiruchy was able to remove taps without spanners. These thieves sell the taps and make anywhere between Rs 300 and Rs 2,000 depending on the number of taps,” sources said.
Indian Railways took the issue seriously when thieves stole toilet accessories worth Rs 5 lakh from Deccan Express and Gadag Express in Mumbai.
However, sources said that the railways may now go for plastic ones to stop tempting the tap thieves.
Rs 2,000 is how much the thieves could earn depending on the number of taps sold.