The Telegraph
Saturday , April 26 , 2014
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Small crimes a big challenge
- Police admit majority of petty offences go undetected

Retired teacher H.K.P. Sinha, who lost jewellery worth Rs 12 lakh and Rs 50,000 in cash in a burglary at his double-storeyed Harmu residence on February 24, may just forget getting back the valuables.

It’s unlikely that the case will be cracked ever.

Blame it on the inefficiency of police force or lack of time and manpower, but the truth is that a majority of small crimes registered in Ranchi are getting brushed under the carpet, unsolved and often undetected.

According to officers at the district police headquarters, around 13,000 cases of petty offences, including theft, burglary, snatching, pickpocketing, had been registered at various police stations across the city since January 2011. Hardly 7,000 have been solved while the remaining cases have either been closed or simply forgotten.

“Police closed many of these cases after getting no lead. As the offences are not anything major, the complainants lost interest after a while,” an officer admitted.

Sushil Jha, a retired development officer of an insurance company whose house was burgled by a gang in his absence last year, agreed.

“I had registered a case at Argora police station on September 15 last year after cash and jewellery worth Rs 10 lakh were stolen from my house. But police failed to track down the thieves. On March 26 this year, I got a letter from the police station, asking me to appear before the officer-in-charge. It said that if I failed to turn up, my case would be closed. As I had lost all hope of getting back my ornaments and did not want to regularly visit the police station, I did not respond to the letter and gave my consent to close the case on March 29,” he said.

Superintendent of police (city) Anup Birthare admitted that petty offences get less attention from police than major ones like murder, kidnaps and dacoities.

“Of all the cases registered, 90 per cent of big offences like murders and robberies get solved, while 55 to 60 per cent of minor cases remain undetected,” he said.

Asked about the differential treatment, Birthare explained that it was easier to crack major crimes because of the involvement of professional gangs or people known to criminals in jails or outside.

“In contrast, it’s difficult to get clues in petty offences as most of the time, these are committed by unorganised groups. Sometimes, young boys commit thefts to oblige the demands of girlfriends or friends. At times, people, who are not habitual offenders, are involved,” he added.

The senior officer further pointed out that Ranchi police were overworked and hence, they tended to concentrate more on solving crimes that are more serious in nature.

“Apart from maintaining law and order, we have to take care of security at IPL matches, offer protection to VIPs, implement court orders and so on. Thus, after some time, officers with limited resources lose interest in detecting petty offences,” he added.