KARACHI: Amid an alarming increase in the menace of street crimes, police authorities have found that snatching of over 30 per cent of all mobile phones took place within the territorial jurisdiction of a mere 11 police stations of the city, it emerged on Sunday.
In the first eight months of 2018, a total of 10,501 mobile phones were snatched at gunpoint in different parts of the city.
Official data suggested that a total of 1,623 cellphones were snatched in January, 1,447 in February, 1,158 in March, 1,129 in April, 1,075 in May, 1,395 in June, 1,465 in July and 1,506 in August.
From Jan 1 to Aug 31, 2018, a total of 3,211 mobile phones were snatched from areas falling within the jurisdiction of Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Sharea Faisal, Ferozabad, Aziz Bhatti, Korangi Industrial Area, Zaman Town, Taimuria, Azizabad, Shahrah-i-Noor Jehan, Nazimabad and Awami Colony police stations.
Four police stations each fall in Karachi’s East and Central districts while remaining three police stations are in Korangi districts.
Interestingly, none of the police stations in Malir, South and West districts make it to the list of the most affected.
East, Central districts worst affected with four police stations each
The police termed 7pm to 11pm peak hours when most of the cellphone snatching incidents took place.
According to official data, 475 cellphones were snatched from the jurisdiction of Gulshan-i-Iqbal police station, Sharea Faisal (414), Ferozabad (350), Aziz Bhatti (321), Korangi Industrial Area (319), Zaman Town (312), Taimuria (297), Azizabad (282), Shahrah-i-Noor Jehan (276), Nazimabad (252) and 232 cellphones were snatched from the limits of the Awami Colony police stations.
The official figures showed that as many as 1,464 two-wheelers were snatched while 17,665 were stolen from Jan 1 to Aug 31, 2018.
Theft of two-wheelers has registered an increase as compared to other categories of street crimes during this period as 1,894 motorbikes were stolen in Jan, 1,786 in Feb, 1,921 in March, 1,944 in April, 2,293 in May, 2,504 in June, 2,669 in July and 2,654 in Aug.
Similarly, 209 two-wheelers were snatched in Jan, 182 in Feb, 201 in March, 236 in April, 154 in May, 152 in June, 142 in July and 188 in Aug.
Most of the bikes were snatched from the following police stations: Gulshan-i-Iqbal (73 motorbikes), Taimuria (53), Surjani Town (52), Korangi Industrial Area (50), Sachal (47), SITE-B (46), Soldier Bazaar (45), Awami Colony (43), Aziz Bhatti (39) and Jamshed Quarters (39).
The police stations from where most of the bikes were stolen are: Zaman Town (554), Awami Colony (549), KIA (545), Sachal (461), Sharea Faisal (391), Preedy (384), Khwaja Ajmer Nagri (365), Korangi (348), Darakshan (342) and Gulshan-i-Iqbal (339).
The peak hours of snatching the motorbikes were between 7am to 11am.
According to the city police’s data, total 145 four-wheelers were snatched while 833 were stolen from Jan 1 to Aug 31, 2018.
A total of 107 cars were stolen in Jan, 89 in Feb, 108 in March, 84 in April, 110 in May, 94 in June, 111 in July and 130 in Aug.
While 26 cars were snatched in Jan, 14 in Feb, 27 in March, 17 in April, 17 in May, 14 in June, 20 in July and 10 in August.
The police stations where such snatching incidents took place were Sharea Faisal (21 cars), Gulistan-i-Jauhar (9), Sachal (8), Darakshan (7), Gulshan-i-Iqbal (6), Surjani Town (6), Mobina Town (5), Shahrah-i-Noor Jehan (5), Gizri (4) and Gulberg (4).
The most affected areas where theft of four-wheelers took place were Gulshan-i-Iqbal (78 four-wheelers), Darakshan (46), Ferozabad (44), Sachal (35), Gulistan-i-Jauhar (33), Taimuria (31), Sharea Faisal (30), Aziz Bhatti (28), Bahadurabad (25) and Boat Basin (24).
The peaks hours of snatching cars were both morning and late evening.
Terming street crimes a serious problem, police authorities have identified at least 40 police stations where such crimes were rampant and suggested that for tackling these challenges, the city police needed at least 2,000 additional cops along with 80 mobiles, 300 motorbikes and 5,000 pistols apart from other things as part of perceived comprehensive strategy to eliminate it.
In addition to overcoming the shortage of manpower and vehicles, the police also realised that host of other concrete measures were also required such as use of modern technology by installing CCTVs, improving legal system by increasing conviction rate and blocking bail to repeated offenders, enhancing police credibility and ensuring accountability of black sheep in the force as part of holistic approach/strategy to combat street crimes effectively.
As far as challenges are concerned for elimination of street crimes, the police report obtained by Dawn on Monday identified inadequate coverage of CCTV cameras as one of the major stumbling block.
Highlighting the importance of CCTVs coverage, it has been pointed out that with help of 18 CCTV footages, at least 42 suspects were arrested recently.
Furthermore, inadequate resources at police station level, large slum areas, undocumented population and traffic congestions have been cited other major challenges.
On the legal front, the police report pointed out that low conviction rate, no punishments, lengthy court procedures, easy bail grants to repeated offenders, disconnection between investigation officers and prosecutors and reluctance of witnesses to testify were major challenges.
The police claimed that in cases of 23(A) Sindh Arms Act, courts were allegedly not accepting evidence of police officials, despite available provision in law.
Highlighting the police-public disconnection, the police authorities observed that lack of support by public in investigations, public aversion because of lengthy legal procedures, attitude problem and alleged negative campaign by media were other challenges for them to control street crimes.
Crime prevention strategy
The police believed that enhanced patrolling, exclusive street watch force, picketing around hot spots, improving emergency response 15, cracking down against second hand mobile markets and action against outlets of spare parts of stolen vehicles, CCTV data bank of crime videos and modernisation and centralisation of CRO could help them in elimination of street crimes.
Improving conviction rate
The police suggested that there was an urgent need to strengthen investigation to take the culprits involved in this crime to task.
It has been recommended to appoint qualified investigating officers preferably law graduates, establishment of potent force, enhancing capacity building and training, identification and vigorous pursuing of prosecutable cases and implementation of witness protection law as part of some steps to improve conviction rate to create deterrence against the criminals.
Improving police credibility
The police admitted that they needed to improve their credibility among the general public in order to make them part of their fight against the crimes.
The police report believed that this may be achieved by improving outlook, providing proper uniform, maintaining vehicles properly, attitude, victim support unit and training sessions by prominent speakers/celebrities.
The city police claimed that they have recently launched some concrete steps to take black sheep within the force to task as part of the accountability process.
It has been pointed out that so far 197 police personnel have been separated as punishment after inquiry.
Furthermore, it has been suggested that more vigilance and watch on such rogue elements in the police force was needed by special branch of the police while recently the city police chief Additional IG Karachi Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh has also launched a Whatshapp number for general public to lodge their complaints.
The police report also pointed out that establishment of new police stations, realignment of police stations, digitalisation of police record and cash reward for appreciation of force were also required in addition to provision of additional force along with vehicles and small weapons to control unabated street crimes.