However, when it comes to crimes such as snatching, all areas are vulnerable. Recently, a person was walking in Besant Nagar, and another person walking behind tried to snatch the valuables of the first walker.
This happened around 3.30 pm. The point is, all areas are vulnerable. The increasing trend of snatch-on-the-go is one reason why the police is insisting on more CCTV camera coverage in as many localities as possible. There are many patrol vehicles, but they are not sufficient to serve the purpose. The police is also faced with a new challenge, in the form of jet-setting criminals so to speak. Many criminals are flying down to cities like Chennai, conducting a concerted operation for a few days or just a week and then flying to another city or their hometowns.
As for police patrolling, even if it is stepped up, the challenge lies in the fact that these crimes are happening at any time of the day, and not necessarily during late- night hours. Also, snatchings –be it mobile phones or gold chains or cash in satchels—are taking place at fairly busy hours, in areas crowded with people. Nungambakkam, for example, is alive with people shopping or dining out till late in the night. Criminals today see an opportunity in everything.
A person speaking on a cell phone in an autorickshaw could fall victim to a snatcher, or someone on a two-wheeler who is holding his mobile phone carelessly in his hand, could lose it to a snatcher. People have to be extremely careful when they are on the roads. A little bit of alertness cannot be harmful to anyone.
The police too should ramp up their crime mapping data. They should look at ways of making mapping more dynamic, instead of doing it for specific hours in a day. This will help generate more accurate data and help them deliver better policing. Once the hot spots are mapped, it will be easier to prevent crimes of this nature.
Another way to curb this growing menace is to have more police booths. The sight of the red-coloured outpost in the middle of a busy area would act as a deterrent and could bring down the number of such cases. At least 1,000 booths should be planned for. City policing is a complex issue, and there can be no set pattern or template to control crime. On the one hand, gang wars have almost been contained, and burglaries too are coming down due to better awareness. One way of cracking down on snatchings could be by delivering a more severe punishment.
– The writer is MLA, Mylapore and former DGP