This is a weekly column that will focus on crime and policing in the city.
The advent of technology, far from deterring miscreants, has aided them in their nefarious activities, including sending of threats to VVIPs, especially political party leaders.
With the steady growth of communication technology, suspects, apart from using the email or text messaging service to send threats, also hack into official websites and post messages there.
In 2013 alone, the Chennai city police received 194 complaints pertaining to offensive (including threatening) mails and SMSes. Complaints regarding threats made to prominent personalities are sometimes not made public to circumvent the media glare. The cases are often cracked within hours by special police teams and the suspect put behind bars.
One of the contemporary tools for sending threats is the mobile phone, which suspects use to call the police control room or to send out threat messages to the targeted victims. Investigators of the cyber crime wing dealing with such cases use the latest software and often rope in mobile phone service providers while carrying out probes.
However, there are some notable cases where suspects have switched on their handset, gotten rid of it in a deserted location and fled in another direction, to lead investigators on a wild goose chase.
Following cases, two years ago, of Chinese or Korean handsets sans IMEI number being used, a ban on using such unauthorised phones came into force.
City police sources claim most cellphone and landline threat cases have been cracked and the culprits punished.
Recalling the days when posted letters was the only or primary source of communication, a senior police official talks of an incident when a miscreant posted a handwritten note in 1973 to the then Chief Minister, posing a threat to his life.
The case was a challenge to sleuths of the crime investigation department (CID) as the letter only bore a signature that read ‘R. Rajendran’.
Investigators found the letter was stamped at Kallavi, a small town in Dharmapuri district, and went there in search of the suspect.
When records in the local police station were looked up, a signature was found that matched the one in the threat letter.
The police detained R. Rajendran who lived in the locality and managed to gain access to a few letters written by him to others. Forensic analysis confirmed that the suspect’s handwriting matched the one in the threat note.
Rajendran was convicted by a local court and awarded one month imprisonment.
The case made waves as the then Chief Minister himself was examined by the CID and his reaction on reading the letter was recorded as evidence under the provisions of Cr.PC.
(Reporting by Petlee Peter and S. Vijay Kumar)