The inside story
In the wake of a string of high-profile burglaries in posh Lokhandwala residences that led to the arrest of a group of well-off youngsters, it has been observed that the number of house break-in and theft (HBT) cases in the city have increased from last year, especially in the western suburbs.

Despite strengthening security measures in housing societies, the detection rate is as low as 32%.

Burglaries across the city have risen by 40%. While the numbers have declined in south and central Mumbai, the western suburbs have seen a maximum increase. Last year, the number of HBT cases (day and night) in the city was 1,843; this year it has increased to 2,567. Police attribute this to loopholes in security measures in gated and non-gated communities and also to the ease in accessibility for people in urban settings and the reduced risk of being spotted in crowded communities.

The Oshiwara police, last week, arrested a gang of three youth from well-off families from the same area. Over the past four months, over eight homes of actors, businessmen and diamond merchants were burgled of Rs2 crore in cash and valuables.

The gang broke into Tarapur Tower, Magnum, Ben Hur and other complexes. The accused, identified as Akash Mitra, 19, Prashant Arora, 20, and Sandeep Arun Singh alias Sandy, 30, were from affluent families and used the money to buy expensive drugs. The gang had information about watchmen, the CCTVs’ position and vacant homes. According to the police, while professional gangs operate in the city, in many cases, amateurs who are in need of cash carefully study areas.

As Himanshu Roy, joint CP (crime), said, “Western suburbs have become more vulnerable to house break-ins, however high-value HBTs have reduced over the years. We will be holding a meeting to understand what needs to be done to enhance the detection rate. The quality of security agencies hired by societies and other technology such as CCTVs and intercoms go a long way in reducing these crimes.”

Kaisar Khalid, additional CP of east region, said, “HBT is a combination of many factors. In nuclear families, everyone goes to work or study, but it is the safety and security measures set up by the housing society that matters. It has become very easy for people to sneak into any building despite stringent security.”

He said that in non-gated communities, MHADA and other rehabilitation structures, there are no guards or CCTVs. “Such places become vulnerable to burglary. We hold regular meetings with housing societies to ensure there are sufficient guards and CCTV cameras across the building.

Sometimes, we also find that guards double up as domestic help and are sent out to fetch groceries. We have been asking societies to not do that.”

Additional CP of north region, Sunil Paraksar, said, “There has been a slight increase in our region. But we have enhanced patrolling in areas. We ensure guards in these societies are on their toes while patrolling.”

The absence of CCTVs and other security measures have led to difficulty in detection. “While the awareness has increased, there is a long way to go. Since there is no physical contact between the burglars and the victims, we have to depend on CCTVs, neighbours and eye witnesses. In most cases, CCTVs are either non-functional or do not capture footage very clearly. Guards should also keep a watch of every person that goes inside and diary entries should be made mandatory,” said a senior police officer.

In the south region, however, the number of HBTs have come down compared to last year.

Krishna Prakash, additional CP of south region, said, “In our area, the detection in HBTs have increased by 5 to 10% from last year. The number of cases have also come down. We are also cracking down heavily on drug consumers and petty criminals in the area as they are involved in such crimes.”

Case studies
1 The flat of a salaried employee, Pravin Kumar, 33, at Prithvi Heights in Kalamboli was burgled on December 3, while he was at his workplace. He returned home to find gold worth Rs1.96 lakh stolen.

2 In Feb 2013, Shivmani Mishra, a businessman, and his family returned to their Gorai home from a two-week trip to Allahabad, to find his house broken into and jewellery and cash worth Rs1 crore stolen. Five Nepalese workers were later arrested for the crime

3 On September 29, six flats were burgled, one after another, in building number 9, near Nirmal Nagar police station in Khar (East). The burglars walked away with whatever they could find, including a TV set

thanks to: