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Southern States - Kerala-Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Danger in the streets

G. Anand

A SERIES of simple thefts in the vicinity of commercial establishments and offices on the M.G. Road between Spencer Junction and Overbridge, has left the city police baffled.

The thefts have been reported on and off for the past one year. People have lost personal computers, cash drawn from banks, gold ornaments and bags containing valuable documents. The thieves seem to have adopted a unique modus operandi finetuned to exploit the gullibility and negligence of their victims.

The Police Commissioner, Rajan Singh, says thefts of this nature have been reported from Kochi, Alappuzha, Kollam and Kozhikode. "The modus operandi is not unique to a particular group of thieves and can be used by anybody looking to make quick money without resorting to violent crime," he points out.

The first in the series of thefts occurred in Cantonment Police Station limits early this year. A personal computer worth more than Rs. 1 lakh was stolen from a car parked in front of a shopping complex at Spencer Junction. A man approached the car driver asking him whether he had dropped some currency notes. As the driver got out of the car to inspect, another person reached inside the car and grabbed the computer, which was kept on the back seat. The two made good their escape before the driver knew what had happened.

Last month, the same strategy was employed to steal a bag containing a laptop computer and Rs 5,000 from a car parked near Spencer Junction. The driver's attention was distracted using the same ruse of currency notes. The same day, a bag was stolen from a car parked at the Ayurveda College.

Earlier, in February, Rs 1.58 lakhs had been lifted from the car of one Raghunandana Menon (50) near the South Gate of the Secretariat at around 11 a.m. Police say the incident occurred when Mr. Menon and his son parked the car and walked over to a nearby shoe mart. The currency note ruse was again employed in April to rob Rs. 1 lakh from a businessman, Hakim, immediately after he had withdrawn the amount from the Treasury Branch of the SBT, in broad daylight.

A police constable, Hussain Khan, was arrested in this connection and he has been named as first accused in the case.

The police, however, say they have not been able to identify the second person involved in the theft.

"The evidence against the arrested constable remains inconclusive at this stage, though the complainant had identified the policeman as one of the persons involved in the theft," says an official.

The police are not ruling out the involvement of criminal gangs. Attention is now focused on a Tiruchirapalli-based gang of thieves, who had camped in some non-descript lodges in Thampanoor during the time the thefts had been reported.

The members of the gang, which has a criminal record in Tamil Nadu, are known to employ a similar "trade craft" to carry out the thefts. Some of the gang members are reported to have been detained for questioning by the Kochi police.

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