Couples spending time at city parks or beaches have to watch out for gangs that may be snooping on them. These gangs clandestinely take pictures of couples and then, blackmail and extort money from them.
According to police sources, such incidents are common at parks in Anna Nagar and Mylapore and city beaches, especially those on East Coast Road (ECR). However, most couples refrain from lodging a complaint with the police, fearing exposure of their relationship to relatives and friends.
“The couple is followed by the gang. When they are found in a compromising position, pictures are clicked. Then, the gang approaches the couple and threaten to post the pictures on the internet or show them to their relatives,” said a police source.
Following this, one of the gang members goes with the couple and makes them withdraw money from an ATM. The gang also collects the couple’s mobile number, to ensure a steady flow of money.
“When the culprits need money, they again call these couples,” the source explained.
Some of these couples report the incident, but don’t lodge a complaint.
Police said a few years ago, such incidents were reported near Muttukaadu on ECR and near the pine forest a few distance away from Kovalam. “Some youngsters were found to be involved in these incidents and we arrested them,” said an officer.
The police have planned deploy decoys at parks and beaches to nab such gangs.
“As policemen, we cannot directly warn the couples as that would be called moral policing. Some police personnel are posed at these places as ‘couples’ to nab the gang,” said a senior police officer.
Meanwhile, to create awareness about such gangs, the police are playing videos about them in a van that goes around the city.
“I shot the movie as I wanted the couples to remain safe,” said V. Raghunathan, vice-president (technologies) of a chemical company, who helps the police.