A year after four constables began to criss-cross the city in an effort to return stolen and lost items to train passengers, the Dadar railway police station became the first to clear its storage room of items that had been lying there for nearly four decades.
On Wednesday, the police station returned the last of the 1,680 items to their rightful owner. Senior Inspector Prasad Pandhare said when he started the exercise last year, he found wallets, cash, knives and wooden sticks dating back to cases registered in 1980 stored in the storage room. Numerous efforts over the decades to trace the passengers were unsuccessful as many of them had changed address or phone numbers. Last year, soon after assuming charge, Mumbai Railway Police Commissioner Ravindra Sengaonkar ordered police stations to undertake the return of belongings to their rightful owners on a war-footing.
The move was aimed at reducing the time citizens spent on approaching the police and courts to have their belongings returned to them. Stolen items can only be returned after the end of lengthy trials.
“We obtained permission from courts to return stolen mobile phones, cash and jewellery to their owners and made them sign bonds that they would attend the court along with the evidence as and when required,” Pandhare said.
Weapons used to commit crimes and drugs seized from arrested persons were destroyed after the cases were disposed off. In cases where the owners of stolen or lost valuables could not be traced, they were deposited in the court.
Sengaonkar said that after following personnel at Dadar railway police station, their colleagues at Churchgate railway police station also managed to achieve a 100 per cent record of disposing stolen and lost items this week. “There are now 8-10 police stations that have 10 items or less left to dispose of. Very soon, all police stations in the suburban railway network will have achieved 100 per cent records,” he said.
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