“We have identified the mobile shops that are buying stolen phones at cheap rates. Next step is to arrest such shop keepers. Another set of active groups aiding the snatchers are those changing the IMEI number. We have identified some of them and are planning to detain them under preventive detention,” said M C Sarangan, additional commissioner (law & order), South Chennai.
Police claim that most of the offenders are new faces, including students and juveniles, which make it difficult to track them. “They sell the phones for Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. If it is an iPhone, it can fetch them a maximum of Rs 3,000,” noted a police officer when asked about the money made by the snatcher per phone.
It is not just one or two shops, but scores of small shops in these hubs that receive stolen mobile phones at a cheap rate and sell it at a margin. “Smartphones are always in demand, and when you get it at a cheap rate, anybody would tend to buy it,” another officer noted.
In many cases, the stolen equipment are taken to other states where it become more difficult for TN police to track, as it is cumbersome to co-ordinate with the service providers of other states, an officer noted.
Unlike gold chains, criminals find it easy to dispose of mobile phones because every youth aspires for a smartphone. “If one snatches a gold chain, he will have to find a proper receiver. Not all pawn broker shops will accept stolen goods. But in the case of mobile phones, it is easier to find a buyer,” another officer who is familiar with the situation said.
However, Raju Chandalia, secretary of Chennai Electronics & Infotech Traders Association, the unified body of Ritchie Street traders, said that he had till date not come across any such activities by association members. “There are some service centres, but we mainly do wholesale trade. Till today, the association has not come across any such illegal activities. Not even the police have approached us,” Chandalia told this newspaper.
Four robbers arrested
Meanwhile, police arrested four men for their attempt to rob an auto driver and a carpenter in Chintadripet and Tirumangalam police station limits. Vinod and Muthuveeran of Pudupet, were caught by public and handed over to the police when they tried to rob auto driver Saravanan’s mobile phone near May Day park. Similarly, three persons, including a juvenile, were secured while they tried to nab a carpenter, Abidesh Kumar (30) of Bihar. While the accused Surya (19) of Padi and Ajithkumar (19) were secured and remanded, the juvenile was sent to observation home.