Millennium Post

Picking pocket: The fairer way

‘Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior,’ a perfect one liner that explains how and why the fairer sex is leaving men behind in the crime world. Recent arrests of female pickpockets in Delhi have stunned the Capital and made them believe that women can prove better than men even if it’s about committing crime.

These days large number of complaints are being lodged at several police stations about pickpockets. A closer look at the situation reveals that  more than 92 per cent pickpockets are women.

Even though a separate coach has been assigned to the female commuters in the Delhi Metro, many women prefer to travel in the common coaches. Most of them are genuine commuters who were unable to board the women’s coach, but along with them there are pickpockets who are keeping an eye on your wallets, bags, mobile phones, cash and other valuable stuff in the pockets.

As per the data released by Central Industrial Security force (CISF), till November around 451 pickpockets had been arrested, out of which 92 per cent are women. CISF along with DMRC carried out around 102 operations on Delhi Metro premises. Around 415 women, including teenage girls, have been arrested in the operation. From the 36 men nabbed for pickpocketing, cash worth Rs 50,000 was recovered from the one arrested recently.

Speaking to Millennium Post, two commuters (names withheld), who nabbed two separate women while they were trying to pickpocket said, ‘It is very difficult to identify them. They look like a normal commuter as their attires cannot draw suspicion in your mind pointing that she is a pickpocket. Only your alertness can save you from losing your stuff,’ he added.

Another person who almost became a victim while travelling in a low-floor DTC bus said, ‘Although the bus was over crowded and I was in a hurry to reach office, I opted to board a bus from Pragati Maidan. Usually, I prefer standing near the seat of the bus conductor so even on that day I stood near him and took out my wallet to buy the ticket. I then kept the wallet in my backpack. Meanwhile, I was surrounded by four to five women with children in their arms.’

‘When I was near the Nizamuddin area, I smelt that something is cooking. To confirm I turned around and saw that one of the ladies had kept her shawl on my bag and was trying to take out the wallet. I nabbed her in the middle of the action with the bag zip open, her hand inside my bag. I could not stop myself and I slapped her. She did not say a word to me and got out of the bus.’

‘The conductor who witnessed the episode, instead of taking any action asked me to inform the bus driver, who asked me to make a call to the police station as the helpline number written on the bus remained unanswered,’ he said.

The rush hours in the public transport is the golden time for these women pickpockets. The women, including minors, target the Metro commuters the most. These pickpockets are active at several Metro junctions that include Rajiv Chowk, Kashmere Gate, Central Secretariat and Yamuna Bank during morning and evening peak hours.

‘Several times, if a victim nabs them red-handed, they don’t pursue the case and ask the officials to let them go after giving a warning. Most of the cases were reported from the stations,’ a DMRC official said.

Cases reported by Metro commuters against the pickpockets are easy to trace. The CCTV footages obtained from the cameras installed in the coaches help us identify the act after which their pictures are extracted from the video grabs.

‘Further the pictures of the suspects are sent to all the Metro stations, DMRC security forces and Delhi police. Till date, 22 women have been caught by the police on the basis of the video grabs,’ an official in crime branch said.

Generally, the girls prefer to maintain distance while standing or sitting near a man. But these women on pickpocketing spree can be identified as soon as they come too close to you.

Misusing the new laws made in favour of women is the modus operandi opted by these women pickpockets in DTC buses. A group of women in early twenties surround their target, one of them take out the item and pass it to their male partners. The men then get off the bus with the stolen item (cash or valuable) and if the girl is nabbed red-handed, the other male partners blame the victim for assaulting the girl.

These groups travel on buses (AC and Non-AC) on the daily basis using passenger passes worth Rs 50. The conductors of the buses usually know them as the pickpockets but they fail to take any action against them. Among the pickpockets the target areas are divided and if the target is missed, the leader of the group passes on the information about the ‘target’ to the next group on condition of sharing a fixed percentage of the stolen stuff.

To curb the crime in public transports, announcements are being made in the Metro at regular intervals to watch out for pickpockets and in the low-floor DTC buses stickers are put up. Also, police officers in civil dress are keeping a close eye on suspicion persons.
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