Criminals shadowing shoppers during Deepavali is only to be expected and crowded places are a haven for them to

operate. Deepavali shoppers thronging malls, textile shops, jewellery showrooms and consumer durable outlets are prime

targets.

The criminals mingle with shoppers and wait for the right victim to pick purses, lift bags and steal ornaments. And there are

also seasoned shop lifters among their ranks who target silk and jewellery shops.

The Madurai police have geared up for the festival challenge with an elaborate security arrangement, says the Commissioner of Police, Sanjay Mathur.

Hundreds of police personnel drawn from several units, from city police, armed reserve, Home Guards and recruit police

constables (RPC) under training are already on the roads that are bursting with festival shoppers, especially the Masi and Aavani Moola Streets.

The police will soon erect watch towers at 17 congested roads and junctions where the policemen will be videographing the

crowd on the Masi and Aavani Moola Streets. “Visible policing and videographying will serve as good deterrents to the movement of criminals,” the Commissioner said.

Besides a public address system, the police are also using megaphones to alert people to keep their valuables safe and also

to caution them about thieves on the prowl. While many of the large textile showrooms have installed CCTVs to monitor the

crowds, the office-bearers of the Bullion Merchants Association have been asked to install the facility in all the jewellery shops.

Plainclothesmen from the crime wing have been deployed at vantage points to spot known criminals, the Assistant

Commissioner of Police (Crime – Town), V. Malaichamy, said. He said experienced thieves operate under the pretext of being

family men, surrounded by women and children. They also employ tried-and-tested tricks to loot valuables from shoppers and

shopkeepers.

“Neatly dressed women steal saris and jewels and quickly slip them inside huge specially-designed pockets in their

petticoats. In many cases, their accomplices divert the attention of the salesmen,” he points out.

Stolen goods are relayed from hand to hand and smuggled out of the store. To enable victims to reach police without

delay, helpline numbers will be displayed prominently.

On the traffic front, over 80 police officials and men have been deployed to regulate traffic.

“Since Deepavali falls on November 2, the salaried class has started shopping from the first week of October. As the shopping

season is spread over a month, the crowd is relatively small on weekdays. The heavy rush on the holidays is regulated by

diverting traffic away from the Masi Streets,” says Assistant Commissioner of Police (Town-Traffic), K. Magudapathy. The

police have been advised to regulate traffic without causing inconvenience to shoppers, he adds.

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