A new development is the use of autorickshaws, writes

S. Vijay Kumar

Despite intensified vehicle checks and patrolling in vulnerable areas, the menace of chain-snatching remains a challenge to the Chennai Police. Though there was a lull in the incidents during the elections, motorcycle-borne youths seem to be back in action. A new development is the use of autorickshaws to commit such offences.

Since January, dozens of chain-snatching complaints have come from across the city, while police officials say many cases do not get reported. According to police sources, victims in a majority of cases could not give any actionable information on the identity of the accused or the vehicle involved. Travelling with fake number plates, helmet-wearing youths are suspected to be operating in different areas.

On Thursday, Madhavi Seshagiri Rao (40) of Pondy Bazaar was returning home after dropping her children at school when an unidentified man in an autorickshaw snatched her 4.5-sovereign gold chain. The incident occurred at 8.45 a.m. on an interior road near her house.

According to Joint Commissioner of Police (South) A.M.C. Gunaseelan, the victim saw the autorickshaw driver doing some repair work in the vehicle. When she passed by, he drove up and snatched her chain. “Though it happened in broad daylight, there was hardly anybody on the road to come to her rescue. The accused usually choose isolated areas and target vulnerable persons. They are well-versed with the topography of the locality and the escape routes.”

In another case on Thursday, S. Julia Shifa (34) of Ashtalakshmi Temple Street in Velachery was returning home from work when two persons who came in an autorickshaw snatched her 5.5-sovereign gold chain and escaped. Mr. Gunaseelan said that people should come forward to apprehend chain-snatchers and anyone else indulging in unlawful activity. “They can hand over the accused at the nearest police station and leave… it is a wrong notion that police include them as witnesses in the case. Police are considering the idea of deploying decoys in crime-prone areas,” he added.