The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Crime catches them young
- Schoolboys easy prey for gangs seeking entry into rich homes

The plot hatched by two boys from well-known south Calcutta schools may be just the tip of a terrible iceberg. This is what the police believe, after the arrest of a Madhyamik examinee and a school dropout, for plotting a burglary in a Ballygunge apartment.

A few south Calcutta criminal masterminds have stitched together a network of schoolboys to aid and abet in crime. These teenagers assist the gangsters by providing vital information and virtually leading them into well-to-do homes. The lure for the young and the restless: quick money.

On Monday, the police rounded up two boys, one 15 and the other 16, for plotting a burglary in a Ballygunge Place apartment with some criminals of Tiljala. The police, suspicious at the manner in which the apartment was cleaned out, interrogated the boys, who broke down and confessed to their role in the crime. On the basis of information provided by them, the police raided several places in the Tiljala area, picked up Arun Das and Tarakeshwar Mistry, and recovered the stolen goods.

Interrogation of Das and Mistry has revealed that the two boys arrested on Monday were not the only ones to have been lured into the world of crime by them. “These boys were introduced to the criminals by two friends who, like them, were from well-to-do families,” said Tapas Basu, officer-in-charge of Gariahat police station. “It is amazing how the criminals network with such schoolboys. We are in touch with other police stations in the area where crime is taking place with the help of schoolboys.”

Officer-in-charge Subrata Ghosh of Shakespeare Sarani police station, who till last week was posted in Karaya, said at least three such crimes had taken place in the Park Circus area in the past two months. In all three cases, the police spy the hand of a Tiljala-Tangra gang.

“We are checking out whether this is the same gang,” Ghosh said. “A single gangleader could be drafting in schoolboys to help them commit the crimes.”

Recently, the Karaya police had cracked a case in which schoolboys had been lured into crime with the promise of a share of the booty. “We arrested a boy who had taken to stealing motorcycles because his ‘bosses’ had promised him a cut. Unfortunately for him, being an amateur, he left behind too many clues while stealing a two-wheeler from Shamsul Huda Road and got caught,” recounted Ghosh, adding that the gang had employed schoolboys to carry out a series of robberies in the Park Circus-Tiljala area in December.

Deputy commissioner of police (detective department) Soumen Mitra traced this trend of schoolboy-criminals to “adventure, glamour and easy money”. He added: “These boys seem to get a kick out of crime.”

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