Mohit and Suraj, both in their early 20s have a day job as software engineers in leading IT companies in the city. Once they’ve logged out, they turn private eyes. Their mission: to track down a gang of cellphone-lifters on the prowl in and around The Forum mall.

The two lost their expensive phones last week to what is suspected to be an organised group. While Mohit lost his boarding a bus, Suraj’s was taken away from his car, which was rear-ended by a two-wheeler, forcing him to stop.

Scouring the streets

After their day’s work, both spend three or four hours every day, scouring on the streets of Madiwala along with police in mufti to collar the gang. They say the police, who reluctantly registered their complaints, sought their help to track down the culprits.

“This has motivated me to help them as I have seen the accused at a close range and can identify them. I don’t want to give up easily as it was an expensive phone and I bought it only a few days ago,” Mohith told The Hindu . “I am sure the gang would come back soon to target other people and I have a hunch that I can help the police catch it to recover all the stolen mobile phones,” said Mohit.

Fleet-footed thieves

He lost his prized phone on January 16, when after a tiring day at work, he boarded a crowded bus at Madiwala. “The man snatched the phone from my shirt pocket and tried to flee. I caught hold of him immediately, but he passed it on to his associate. They were quick and I lost both of them,” Mohit said ruefully.

Suraj, who lost his phone near The Forum mall, was waiting at a traffic signal when a person knocked on his car window saying his vehicle has been hit in the rear. “I got off the car to check and returned immediately to find my mobile phone missing from the dashboard.”

Since the incident occurred at a traffic signal, Suraj has been trying to obtain CCTV camera footage but to no avail. “I have complained to the Koramangala police and have also tried to contact traffic police officials to get the footage but to no avail,,” he said.

He said the police say the CCTV footage isn’t sharp enough to identify people. “If they can zoom in on vehicle numbers, how can faces not be identified? Although it was clearly stolen from me, the police refused to lodge a theft case and instead made me file a complaint saying my phone was lost.”

But he consoled himself in the fact that police personnel have been accompanying on his mission along with Mohit. “The police have been assisting well enough at the ground level. But the mobile phone has to be tracked first,” he told The Hindu .