NEW DELHI: If you haven’t yet secured your car with highend anti-theft devices, now is a good time to do it. A vehicle was stolen every 13 minutes in the capital in the first three months of the year, marking a sharp 44% rise over the same period last year. Only around 4% of these cars are recovered.
Delhi saw 9,714 vehicle thefts in the the first quarter of 2016, up from 6,724 in the first three months of last year. By April 13, the number had crossed 11,000, according to police figures.
Investigators blame the spurt on the creation of an app to register vehicle thefts, which has taken the pressure off local police stations to prevent and solve these cases.Car-theft investigations have virtually come to a standstill as no particular thana is held responsible any longer for unsolved cases.
The app automatically gives the user an untraced report after 21 days. For the app, introduced by the previous police chief, an e-police station was created and it became the `central agency’ for handling vehicle thefts. The lax policing situation in the capital has led to it attracting car thieves from outside, according to police sources. The Meerut (Sotiganj) gangs are learnt to have devised a new way to crack open new electronic locks of high-end cars as well.
The app needs to be done away with or at least tweaked, the sources said, so that the responsibility for thefts goes back to the police.
Investigators accept the situation is grim. Lack of deterrence has emboldened thieves so much that they are using techniques and gadgets to override the modern anti-theft systems. Not only do they carry duplicate electronic keys but can also neutralise engine control modules (on-board computers) in fuel-injected vehicles in a few minutes.
“In 1990, a vehicle was stolen in New York City every 3.5 minutes, but new anti-theft technologies and a police crackdown ensured a 95% fall in vehicle thefts by 2013. Now, a vehicle is stolen in NYC once every 72 minutes. In Delhi, the focus is on doing away with probe,” a senior cop said.
Motor vehicle theft makes up a fifth of all IPC crimes reported in Delhi and it is getting better organised by the day .
All that thieves need is a window of 3 hours to dispose of a stolen vehicle, sources said. Late at night, they can cross over into Haryana or UP from any place in Delhi within half an hour. Then, getting the vehicle to a salvage yard in places such as Meerut takes only about an hour more. Using deft hands and machines, the yards take apart a car in no time, and the chances of it be ing traced thereafter are practically nil. While many of the stolen vehicles are dismantled for parts, some are sold in Nepal, the northeast, and also Bihar and West Bengal.
Till 2014, five-six gangs from Sotiganj in Meerut, and other areas in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, were active in Delhi, operating in twos and threes. Today , the thieves travel in sedans in groups of sixseven. They are armed to the teeth and take away two-three vehicles in a go.
The outlying police districts that share borders with neighbouring states have higher vehicle theft rates, with the maximum cases reported from east and northeast districts that abut UP . While the theft rate has shot up, the recovery rate remains abysmal.On average, if 100 vehicles are stolen, only four are traced.
Last year, 22,223 vehicles were stolen in Delhi and 6,019 of these were cars. At the end of the year, 2,322 were found. In 2013, the number of stolen vehicles was 26,330. It was 24,231 in 2012, and 26,729 in 2011.