| Tech boon for thieves |
Armed with smart phones, criminals have now turned smarter than ever before.
Government Railway Police (GRP) recently came across a new gang, which tracked a potential victim through several stations and replaced the passengers’ branded suitcases with empty ones and made off with the loot.
Though the gang was active for long, the GRP personnel came to know about it only recently when a software engineer travelling by the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Kurla, Mumbai)-Rajendra Nagar Express found his suitcase replaced with another one. To his utter surprise, all the valuables were stolen from the suitcase.
The victim, Satyendra Prasad, could notice the theft only when he reached his Buddha Colony residence recently. Prasad immediately informed the Patna GRP about the loot of cash, laptop, camera and other valuables kept in the suitcase.
Referring to the gang’s modus operandi, the GRP officers said by the time the victim found out that the bag was not his, it was too late to track the gang. “In such cases, the victim cannot even able to furnish basic details like when the robbery happened, as they would be sleeping,” a senior officer said.
During preliminary investigation, it came to the fore that the members of the gang mostly use cellphone cameras and social media apps to transfer information. The members of the gang track a potential victim right from the bank, ATMs or shops and business establishments to the trains and carry out the robbery.
They keep a close surveillance on passengers waiting at railway platforms. At times, they travel in trains with the potential victim, take pictures using cellphone and send the same to other members. They operate in connivance with taxi drivers, who provide tip-off to the gang kingpin.
Several such incidents have come to the notice of the police as well. “But they have not been busted as the victims not even realise that there has been a robbery until quite late. We are keeping a close watch on the activities of the gang,” said Sanjay Pandey, an officer posted with the Patna GRP.
A similar incident has happened with a Bihar Military Police jawan during the general election. Patna superintendent of police (rail) Upendra Sinha said the cop reported the matter because his bag contained a number of live cartridges, besides other valuables.
Sources said several trains passing on East Central Railway, especially those towards Delhi and Mumbai, are the favourite hunting grounds. Even those on the North East Frontier Railway were also hit. The passengers travelling by the Capital Express are the worst victims, the sources added.
When one member of the gang was arrested on August 10, it was found out that they not only kept track of the people, who travel with huge cash but also took picture of the luggage. The Patna GRP personnel had recovered a large number of bags and suitcases abandoned in a train compartment in the first week of August.
At least 746 incidents of robbery and six incidents of theft have been reported from four railway districts — Patna, Muzaffarpur, Jamalpur and Katihar — in the past seven months have been reported. In 2013, 1,485 incidents of robbery and 16 incidents of theft were registered with the different GRP stations across the state.