Crimes near banks on the rise

Criminal gangs coming in from other states are targeting individuals withdrawing cash and walking out

Visiting gangs are responsible for the increase in mugging cases in Bengaluru, police say.

Gangs are coming in from Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh to commit crimes in Bengaluru. In Andhra Pradesh, they come mostly from the Anantapur area.

“They operate in groups of five or six, sometimes more, and each gang has a modus operandi,” says Sandeep Patil, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime). 

People coming out of banks with cash are particularly vulnerable. The gangs have devised many methods to target them. 

The gangs also burgle houses, and use women to honeytrap and extort money from men. “In some cases, they pose as policemen in mufti,” he told Metrolife.

Gangs take up houses for rent in localities where they can’t be easily identified. “We have nabbed gangs from K R Puram, Ulsoor, Banaswadi, Majestic and Yelahanka,” Patil says.

Police see a pattern to the crimes. “The bank thefts are usually committed between morning and noon, and the house break-ins and mobile and chain snatching at night or early morning,” says the officer. 

Be alert: police chief

City Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao wants people to help the police identify bad elements in the neighbourhood. “While some rowdies and gangs are listed and their movements are tracked, others are being identified,” he told Metrolife.

How to be on guard

Joint Commissioner of Police Sandeep Patil offers some tips:

Don’t wear too much jewellery when walking on the streets.

Don’t have conversations with strangers.

If you are going out of town, tell your newspaper vendor.

Instal CCTV cameras in all independent house and secure them.

Use bank lockers to keep gold, cash and other valuables.

Be careful when appointing a servant. Collect identity proof.

 

CCTV cameras help

A senior police officer says CCTVs cameras have helped crack many cases. “With footage, police quickly gather evidence. The conviction rate has gone up because of the cameras”.

How gangs pull it off

Visiting gangs hang out near banks and keep an eye out for people returning with cash. Once they zero in on a target, they follow him. One gang member goes inside the bank while the others wait outside. When the target withdraws money and comes out, the man inside diverts his attention by talking to him. Two or three others snatch the cash and disappear.

Bags with money are also snatched from cars and scooters.

A man distracts the target by saying his car tyre is punctured, and the accomplices use the opportunity to make away with the bag. Gangs even throw ink on the target, and when he is busy trying to clean it, snatch the bag and run away. When it comes to burglaries, they identify a house and study the locality for days before striking. Police say that is the reason they insist independent houses install CCTV cameras.

 

Poof! Jewellery gone

A man claimed he was a policeman in plainclothes and told a woman, all decked up and walking on the street, to put away her jewellery in a bag. “She was wearing a lot of jewellery, and he said there was a mob ahead. He then held out a cloth and asked her to use it to secure her gold,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sandeep Patil says. When she did as suggested, the man quickly replaced the bag with the jewellery with a similar one that he had filled with stones. It took the victim a while to realise how she had been robbed.

Anything for domination

A senior sessions judge, who regularly hears cases related to crimes in the city, says gangs are territorial, and do anything for domination in a neighbourhood or method.“When they are nabbed, they are charged under sections dealing with theft and cheating. They face up to seven years in jail, depending on the gravity of the crime,” he told Metrolife.
Women decking themselves up in jewellery and walking on the streets are easy targets. They must be extra-careful, he says.
Gangs operate on the outskirts of the city as they can quickly cross the border and escape into Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh, he says.

 

Recent cases of gang-based robberies in Bengaluru

Mayan Bhat, a 29-year-old software engineer, was accosted by a group of seven men while he was returning home in Koramangala. They escaped with his mobile phone, wallet and backpack.

Gang posed as customers and opened fire in Samrat Jewels in Palace Guttahalli in Vyalikaval recently. Their attempt to steal was foiled by the alert staff.

A gang of four went on a robbing spree on the KIA Road in Devanahalli. They would stop people and threaten them with knives and other sharp instruments till they parted with whatever they were wearing.

A man withdraws money and comes out of a bank. He starts his two-wheeler but skids when he rides a little further and falls. Four men come to his help. One person helps him and the others run away with the money.

In numbers

650 Thefts registered in Bengaluru in 2017
690 Thefts registered in 2018
350 Chain snatching cases in 2018
308 Chain snatching cases in first five months in 2019

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