A majority of the 329 thefts reported in 2007 were that of two-wheelers, says S. Vijay Kumar

Vehicle thefts are emerging a worrying factor for the city police. A majority of the 329 thefts reported in 2007 were that of two-wheelers. The ease with which habitual offenders dispose off stolen vehicles has made the crime the most common offence in the city.

According to police sources, parking of vehicles on the road or in front of the house makes thefts easy for criminals who have mastered the art of opening handle or door locks. While some suspects dismantle motorcycles and dispose off select spare-parts in the market, others use them for committing offences, usually chain-snatching. “Engines of some two-wheelers are sold in the coastal belt as they can be used in the making of motor-boats. With intensive night patrolling and online vehicle (records) checking mechanism, use of stolen vehicles has come down. If some suspects sell stolen vehicles at a throw away price in rural areas, others have inter-State connections and prefer disposing them off in neighbouring States,” a police official said.

Inspector-General and Commissioner of Police, K. Nandabalan, said a random check on vehicles parked outside the house revealed that at least 6 vehicles were not locked. The doors of some cars were left open. “We are trying to create awareness on the safety aspects. Motorcycle patrolling has been introduced after dusk till late in the night in residential areas. The overall crime rate has come down though there was a spurt in theft and burglary incidents recently,” he said.

Statistics show that percentage of detection and recovery (of stolen property) has come down in 2007 compared to the previous year. If property worth Rs. 1.14 crore was reported stolen in 2006, police detected 93 per cent resulting in recovery of 78 per cent of the property. In 2007, Rs. 1.18 crore worth property was stolen and the detection and recovery was 79 per cent and 70 per cent respectively. The 165 cases reported till March 31 this year included 139 thefts, 18 burglary during night and 4 robberies.

Mr. Nandabalan who handed over stolen property recovered from suspects to the respective owners at the Commissionerate on Friday said bag lifting remained a menace in area of public gathering such as bus stands. Fingerprints of those detained under preventive sections were being recorded. “We are using the computer-aided portrait building facility effectively. Well-trained policemen can develop the image of suspects based on the inputs given by complainants. Since we have the database of criminals over the years, images often match leading to detection of cases,” he added.

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