Delhi Police at their annual press conference on 19 February said they had been working in accordance with a strategy to keep residents safe, even as the rate of two types of street crimes, snatching and robbery, rose in 2020 compared to the previous year, despite a two-month-long Covid-necessitated lockdown, and curbs on movement and gatherings for a large chunk of the year.
Nearly 22 people were victims of snatching every day, while at least five daily robberies took place in Delhi in 2020, a 27.11% and 0.36% increase respectively compared to 2019.
Police data showed that the cops solved three of every five snatching cases last year, a percentage point increase from 2019. Robbery solving percentage increased from 91.92% to 92.21%. The police arrested 6,496 persons for snatchings, a 24% increase from 2019.
SN Shrivastava, Delhi Police commissioner, attributed the increase of the two crime FIRs to an encouragement of registration of cases as they occurred. But he pointed out that the calls to the police control room (PCR) about these two crimes, like overall offences, had dipped last year. “We kept PCR calls as the benchmark of the crime scenario,” he said.
The PCR calls for snatching saw a peak in August 2019 when 5,292 such calls were received. In comparison, 1,060 such PCR calls were received in March this year, the lowest through 2020. Similarly, robbery and dacoity calls to the PCR unit peaked in August 2019 at 1,848 such calls and dipped to 498 in April 2019.
Sharing the example of Shahdara district, the police showed a map of how hotspots of snatching and robbery such as Shahdara, Farsh Bazar, Vivek Vihar, Anand Vihar and Jagatpuri were identified and barricades set up strategically at important roads which could lead to a getaway and motorcycle patrol teams were deployed to chase down suspects at those locations.
The police were similarly identifying hotspots of crime against women. Bindapur, Dwarka South, Dwarka North, Sagarpur and New Usmanpur were the top five police stations in the list of such hotspots. Santosh Meena, deputy commissioner of police (Dwarka), under whose jurisdiction four such police stations fall, said, “Such cases here are high because we register every complaint we receive,” said Meena.
Vikram Singh, former DGP of Uttar Pradesh, said the police leadership needed to examine the profiles of the snatchers and robbers arrested. “The police need to find out if such criminals were first-timers, whether they took to these crimes due to loss of jobs or payment of EMIs. That can help them know about the kind of criminals striking in a year of lockdown,” said Singh.