CHEATS IN KHAKI: Real cops struggle to nail impostors preying on elderly
It is getting to be an area of concern for a growing number of elderly citizens of Pune,which is famous as the pensioners paradise. Impostors,donning the guise of city cops duping gullible senior citizens of their valuables is on the rise,while the real policemen have been able to do little to stem the menace.
In 2007 and in 2008 till October,about 30 cases of fake cops cheating people,mostly senior citizens,were registered with the Pune police. Significantly,none of these cases has been solved.
Since January 2006,43 cheating cases involving fake police took place and the Pune police recently compiled the details of these cases. In 2006,there were 13 cases of fake police cheating the elderly in Pune,of which only five were solved.
In 2007,the cases involving impostors posing as policemen went up to 18. In 2008,the number,till October,was 12 and again not a single case was solved. Police sources say that there could be five more cases of fake police cheating the people since October,but these do not figure on the list.
The modus operandi in most cases is similar. The imposters first try to get elderly citizens to panic by saying there has been a murder in the vicinity or some tension is prevailing in the neighbourhood. They then ask them to remove their ornaments and wrap it in a handkerchief as a precaution. While pretending to help the pensioners in keeping their ornaments safe,the impostors make away with the valuables. The hapless senior citizens take a while to realise they have been duped and lose precious time before approaching the police.
We have studied the 43 cases registered in the last three years. It was found that fake policemen mainly target the elderly. Senior citizens often dont remember the face of the impostors. So they are not able to give a proper description,which is required for drawing sketches of suspects. With no clues,most cases remain unsolved, said Joint Commissioner of Police,Rajendra Sonawane.
The police have been appealing to the citizens to be wary of strangers. Still,many senior citizens continue to be duped, Sonawane said.
Police have identified a few areas in Sahkarnagar,Swargate,Duttawadi,Kothrud,Nigdi,Shivajinagar and Narayan Peth as prone to such crime. Police suspect that imposters target senior citizens who go for a walk on a particular route every day and ensure these roads are relatively deserted when they make their move.
There are fraudsters other than fake cops targeting the elderly citizens. On January 21,2008,two unidentified persons on a motorcycle approached 53-year-old Surekha Rahguru of Bibwewadi near her residence. They told Rajguru that they wished to donate Rs 2,000 for a ritual,but needed to touch the currency notes with some gold ornament as a token gesture. The gullible Rajguru gave her gold chain to them and they made off with it. She lodged a complaint with the Sahkarnagar police,but the culprits has yet to be nabbed.
Anjali Raje,Deputy Executive Director of International Longevity Centre,said it was an issue that needed to be addressed seriously,at the earliest. Pune is a haven for retired people and many of them stay in isolated areas,vulnerable to crimes. Also,there is a need for making the elderly aware of the threat from strangers, she said.