Stolen vehicles being used for armed robberies,break-ins
The police have come across a new trend in car thefts in the western suburbs of the city. Special crack teams formed by Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 9) Niket Kaushik to track motor vehicle thefts have stumbled upon a new pattern,in which cars are stolen not just for sale,but also for use in subsequent vehicle thefts,armed robberies and house break-ins.
The special teams were formed,under the supervision of assistant commissioners Dilip Suryavanshi and Kishan Shengal of the DN Nagar and Bandra divisions, to monitor car thefts. Tracking certain cases,the teams discovered that along with stealing bigger cars with the intention of selling them,car thieves also stole small cars to scout for larger cars. Besides this,some of the stolen smaller cars were later used for armed robberies.
Car thieves prefer this part of the city as not only is there a large number of vehicles here,but it is also easy for them to go out of the city limits, said Kaushik. In the case of south Mumbai,if the police get to know of a car theft,they can still act and have a good chance of preventing the thieves from leaving the city.
Officers attached to the special teams said while car thefts were earlier reported more from south Mumbai,it is now rampant in the western suburbs. After Malabar Hill and other areas in south Mumbai,Bandra,Khar,Lokhandwala and Juhu are now the favoured spots, said sub inspector N Patil who heads a special team.
Patils team had recently busted a gang of car thieves responsible for at least 100 car thefts,in which the cars were mainly sold in east and north-east India. Small cars are maneuverable,fast and unobtrusive. The majority of such cars that are stolen are used to track down other cars. The car thieves park their car next to the target,observe its lock and make a new key before driving away both the cars in an hour, he said.
Apart from being used for car thefts,as many as 40 per cent of the small cars stolen are used for crimes like armed robberies and thefts. However,the favourite use of small cars is as getaway vehicles for house-breakers. The accused often prefer a black Hyundai Santro or a Hyundai Getz that can zip in and out of lanes and bylanes. These cars also have amazing pick-up and almost always leave police Boleros far behind in chases. There is also a high demand for them in the black market, Patil said.
The Santro is the definite hot favourite, said sub inspector S Tawde who heads another team. Most people dont really pay much attention to a small car parked anywhere near them,which works to the advantage of the thieves. Often,these gangs keep the small car with them till they get it sold. At other times,they operate in a cycle,stealing a small car and then using it to steal another car or two before selling it off. This method is so popular now that amongst the 100 cars stolen by the Guddu gang that we had busted in mid-March,about 50 were stolen to facilitate more robberies. This modus operandi is only used when the demand for cars is down. Of the 50 cars used by the Guddu gang for subsequent crimes,only five were used for armed robberies, he said.