A spate of two-wheeler thefts over the past few weeks on the southern and northern fringes of the city has left the police baffled. At least 10 cases have been reported from Kasba, Tiljala, Garia and Sonarpur, Lake Town, Belghoria and other pockets.
P.S. Rawat was visiting his daughter, who lives in an apartment at Mahamayatala, near Garia, on Thursday. His son-in-law was out of station. At night, Rawat’s two-wheeler was stolen from the garage. “The presence of a security guard was no deterrent,” Rawat said. A neighbour’s two-wheeler was also stolen. A complaint was lodged with Sonarpur police station.
“There have been two-wheeler thefts in Kasba, Tiljala and Sonarpur,” admitted Rajesh Subarna, additional superintendent of police (industrial), South 24-Parganas, on Friday. “We are probing whether it is the handiwork of a single gang or several groups,” he added.
Sources attributed the rise in two-wheeler thefts to the increase in demand of the engines in Bangladesh. “The four-stroke engines of motorcycles are fitted in country boats in Bangladesh. The demand rises during the monsoon, when more boats are in operation,” a senior police officer said.
According to Bhuban Chandra Mondal, South 24-Parganas additional superintendent of police (rural), there are two routes taken by the motorcycle thieves. The vehicles are smuggled into Bangladesh through the Sonarpur-Bhangar-Hakimpur-Basirhat route.
The other route, via Kasba and Tiljala to Rajarhat, down the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, and then to Basirhat, is also used frequently.
From Basirhat, these vehicles are smuggled into Bangladesh, making it difficult for the police to trace a stolen motorcycle. “We are increasing vigil on these routes,” Mondal said.
A few days ago, a man was arrested in Kasba in connection with two-wheeler thefts. “We have handed him over to Calcutta Police and probes are on to find out whether he was part of a bigger racket,” said T.K. Biswas, inspector-in-charge of Kasba police station.
Residents said the thefts had dropped significantly during the European Cup soccer championship, because people were awake till late at night, watching the matches.
“Even motorcycles parked inside multi-storeyed buildings are not safe,” said A.D. Sharma, a resident of Garia, who lost his vehicle on Thursday night.
Salil Bhattacharya, inspector-in-charge of Tiljala police station, said a racket operating in south Calcutta and along the Bypass had been identified.
According to senior officials of North 24-Parganas, motorcycle thefts were reported from Lake Town, Keshtopur, Belghoria, Khardah, Jagaddal and other areas.
“In Salt Lake, too, there had been such thefts till a few months ago. But after plain-clothes policemen and night patrols stepped up vigil, there have been no such cases in the township,” a district police officer said on Friday.