In a relief to suburban railway commuters, detection of mobile phone thefts in the notorious stretch between Kurla and Mulund stations has risen in the past two years. The stretch, a prime location for mobile thefts and pick-pocketing, has witnessed a rise in terms of retrieving stolen mobile phones.
According to figures received from records of Government Railway Police (GRP), the number has gone up as far as retrieving mobile phones is concerned. In 2015, retrieval rate went up to 64 per cent in comparison to 59 per cent in 2014. In 2015, 219 mobile phones out of 340 mobile phones stolen were retrieved in comparison to 168 out of 283 in 2014. Also, 78 mobile phones were recorded to be recovered out of 107 in the past five months of 2016.
Kurla GRP manages the nine stations including Vidyavihar, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli, Kanjur Marg, Bhandup, Nahur, Mulund and the terminus station of Kurla. The areas had maximum complaints of pick-pocketing, mobile phone theft and and other thefts.
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Claiming that a senior officer has been appointed to deal with such cases, Pramod Babar, a senior official from GRP, Kurla said, “We tried to increase communication with people who come to us with complaints of mobile theft. We pass on our WhatsApp number which they use to get in touch with us whenever they want to confirm the status of their lost mobile phones.”
Officials also claimed being in constant touch with mobile tracing companies to make sure commuters get help in retrieving lost mobile phones. “We cannot confirm the time in which they will receive their mobile phones. It may take three months, six months or even a year but we inform them of status of their lost mobile phones through Whatsapp messages,” Mahesh Kale, another railway official added.
Most of the accused were residents of slum areas of Mumbra, Govandi and Mankhurd. While commenting on mobile phone thefts topping the charts among other things stolen, Babar added, “At least 80 per cent of mobile phones stolen belong to brands like a Samsung, Motorola or others. The people stealing them would be from very poor backgrounds and perhaps may be needing the money from selling these phones to buy drugs, drinks or other things.” A person caught for stealing mobile phone is either liable for jail term of three to six months or fine up to Rs 5,000.
However, mobile phone thefts continued to increase in the belt. From 283 phones stolen in 2014, the number has gone up to 340 in 2015. GRP officials claimed strict patrolling was being done during rush hours.
“We increased strength of officials at five major spots where chances of maximum thefts persist. These officials are posted around peak hours so that pick-pockets can be nabbed easily.” Babar added. However, many thefts occur inside trains or while climbing an over-crowded bridge. Commuters should take precautions, Kale said and added, “We can only appeal to commuters to refrain from boarding over-crowded trains or maintaining extreme care of their belongings. Standing on foot-boards and observing a lackadaisical attitude towards personal belongings in the train must be avoided.”