Navi Mumbai gets vehicle theft detection cell

When the Navi Mumbai police decided to shut the anti-extortion cell 10 days ago, its 14 officials were set to tackle a menace that was increasing in the city — vehicle thefts.

Alarmed by the rising number of vehicle theft cases, the police announce that the newly formed vehicle theft detection cell will solely concentrate on recovering stolen vehicles.

According to the police’s annual crime report, a total of 843 vehicle theft cases were registered in the city in 2018 as opposed to 586 cases registered in 2017. In January alone nearly 50 vehicles were stolen.

Tushar Doshi, deputy commissioner of police (crime), said, “It has been observed that criminals involved in vehicle theft cases are habitual offenders and they keep committing such crimes in different areas. When they are arrested, the police book them under section 379 (punishment for theft) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and they are out on bail after a month.”

“Just after getting out from jail, they start stealing vehicles in other areas. It becomes difficult to keep a check on their activities. So, we needed a centralised system to keep track of their activities. The new cell will play that role and share intelligence inputs with the police stations. That will help us check such crimes,” he said.

Doshi said many vehicles are stolen for joy rides. “Youth with criminal backgrounds steal vehicles for enjoyment. After riding them for a few days or weeks, they abandon the bikes. Those cases remain undetected. For example, if a vehicle stolen from Panvel is abandoned at Rabale, the Rabale police may not be able to pay due attention to this matter.”

The new cell will make a data of such abandoned vehicles and after analysing them, they will contact the respective police stations.

The cell will collect the CCTV footage and other evidences from the departments, study the patterns of such crimes. Based on that, they will formulate preventive strategies.

“When a vehicle is stolen, the case will still be registered and investigated by the respective police station. The new team will help them with their resources and in some case start parallel investigations,” Doshi said.

The new cell will operate from the same office of the anti-extortion cell on Thane-Belapur road at Pawane MIDC. “Later, we will give some more officials to this cell. But, we are facing staff crunch now,” he said.

According to the police, the residential areas of all developed nodes have recorded vehicle theft cases. The areas near major railway stations such as Vashi, Nerul, Kopar Khairane, Panvel are the worst affected.

Lack of precautionary measures and parking in open areas are the main reasons for such crimes.

Ajay Kadam, assistant commissioner of police (crime) said, “People spend lakhs to buy luxurious cars. But they do not spend a small amount to ensure their safety. Worse, they park their vehicles on roads and other public places at nights.”

Doshi said that there should be general awareness among residents about safety measures. As many as 843 vehicles were stolen from the city last year, but not a single vehicle was fitted with GPS (global positioning system). “A vehicle owner has to barely spend Rs2,000 a year to fit a GPS system,” Doshi added.

First Published:
Feb 28, 2019 00:17 IST

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