The antecedents of criminals caught in the police dragnet in recent times seem to be confounding law enforcers.

As erstwhile habitual offenders change track and involve themselves in different kinds of criminal activities, the police find themselves in a situation of altering strategies to track them down. The main cause for worry is involvement of educated youth in crimes, particularly in chain-snatching. In a recent incident in which three youth were arrested by a rural police team near Vengur, one of them had taken to chain-snatching after completing degree programme in Catering.

After arresting the trio, the team had cause for satisfaction as recovery of gold jewellery and a two-wheeler valued over Rs.20 lakh could be made. The police initially thought that the trio were habitual chain-snatchers. But, they were taken aback when the criminals revealed that they were into house break-ins and a lorry theft as well. They had committed the lorry theft in Thuvakudi limits earlier this year, got the vehicle dismantled, and sold the parts in Namakkal and Karur districts. They used to strike at different places, including Tiruverumbur, Thuvakudi, Manikandam, Musiri, and Manachanallur in differing periodicities so as to scatter the attention of law enforcers.

Though belonging to different places, the criminals Arockiam(33) of Kambarasampettai, Ronaldo Rose Leo (32) of Kulithalai, and Raja (29) of Lalapet had developed friendship during their incarceration at the Tiruchi Central Prison. They had decided to diversify their crimes to continue leading a life of luxury, an official involved in the operation to nab the trio, said, adding that in their case, excessive drinking habit was a prompting factor for committing crimes. Their modus operandi was to identify soft targets, and to observe them for a few days. The group used to study the escape routes and then strike at the opportune time to make good their escape.

According to the official, it is the carelessness of the people that makes the task of the criminals easier. For instance, in some of the chain-snatching cases, women had walked alone holding mobile phones to their ears, investigations indicate. “The criminals are so adept in their act that by the time the victims realise the robbery, it is too late, ” the official explained.

Carelessness of residents surface in house break-in cases too . Despite awareness initiatives, the residents do not care to inform the police when they keep their houses locked continuously for certain duration. “Residents follow a very predictable pattern of concealing valuables. They hide the valuables either inside containers of rice or keep them inside pillows with the intention of hoodwinking criminals breaking into houses to commit burglary,” investigators say. The police do go on night rounds and keep watch on suspicious elements. However, they face the limitations of personnel and resources.

The main cause for worry is involvement of educated youth in crimes, particularly in chain-snatching, writes R.Krishnamoorthy