Ananthapuri, Kanyakumari, and Rameswaram express trains are crime-prone

With a group of suave, soft-spoken group of young men striking at their will to rob passengers of long distance express trains on the Thiruvananthapuram – Tirunelveli – Madurai –Chennai Egmore sector, the Government Railway Police has recently launched an intensive awareness drive urging passengers to observe extreme caution during their journey.

According to the officials, over 20 incidents of passengers losing their jewellery, cash, ATM cards and other valuables during their journey on express trains, all bound for Chennai have been reported so far this year.

Elaborating, the sources said a group of men, all from north India, would book tickets simultaneously in different classes, including three-tier and two-tier air-conditioned coaches, on the same train. They would settle themselves in their respective coaches during the start of the journey.

They mostly prefer Rameswaram, Kanyakumari and Ananthapuri Express trains, all bound for Chennai.

Occurrences in AC coaches

They would book the tickets well in advance and would reach the respective destinations on the day of the train’s departure to Chennai. Once the passengers are fast asleep, the men would stealthily remove their suitcases and take them to their berths. They would prefer side upper berths in AC coaches as there are curtains.

Using tools to remove the locks in a very short span of time, they remove whatever valuables they can and place the suitcase at the same place after locking them. When the passengers wake up in the morning, they would not even have a trace of doubt that their suitcase had been tampered with and realise the loss of valuables only after reaching home.

In all cases, the victims had not strapped their luggage to the safety chains underneath the lower berths. In one case, a woman passenger was travelling with gold jewels weighing about 50 sovereigns, as she did not want to leave them behind in her locked home, but she lost them during her journey to Chennai.

In another incident, a woman passenger had taken a loan, purchased jewels for her daughter’s wedding and she too was robbed in a similar fashion.

In another case, a college lecturer lost his ATM card and two days later, he received an SMS that the entire cash in his account was withdrawn. He had written the PIN number on the rear side of the card.

Even those travelling in groups have not been spared.

Sources said the robbers operate so silently and smoothly that none of the victims or other passengers in the compartment would hear a noise or notice something suspicious. In one instance, a victim was helped by one of the robbers in moving his heavy luggage from the compartment to the platform.

According to the GRP officials, the north Indian gangsters would also book their return journey in such a manner that they would leave in the first train out of Chennai Central, after arriving earlier at Chennai Egmore.

Pamphlets distributed

Launching the awareness drive, Government Railway Police personnel distributed pamphlets to commuters in both the suburban and main line platforms, urging them not to carry valuables such as jewels or huge amounts of cash .

Strapping their luggage to safety chains would reduce such crime incidents by more than half. While travelling in groups, especially while carrying valuables, it was advisable for at least one of them to be awake throughout the night.

Exercising utmost caution while interacting with fellow passengers or strangers was most important to prevent such crime incidents, they added.

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